Tuesday, November 22, 2005


Well, my mommy is here. And it’s nice. I feel centered and strong. As silly-hippiesh as it sounds. But I was straying, despite all the fun that I was having. I’m still only 16. Well, nearly 17. As much as I would like to believe I am oh-so grown-up, sophisticated, and mature. Independence is not quite as easy as it seems. It becomes too easy to get lost when you are alone. You no longer have those tall shadows gently prodding at your heels, guiding you. But now everything will be all right. I can draw strength from her touch, faith from her presence, bliss from her love. Yeah. I am found.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Tournaments and Turbulence

Written on Tuesday, November 8, 2005

Wow, with so much to say, where do I even begin? Hmm, I suppose first we’ll do South Africa. So, I arrived back at Addis yesterday morning. The flight was hellish. We had woken up at 7 on Sunday morning, been out shopping and watching a movie all day, and then had a midnight flight from Joburg to Nairobi. We arrived at Nairobi about 5:45 in the morning, and yes it was fairly impossible to sleep decently on the plane. Then we had about a one-and-a-half-hour layover in the airport there, and then left for Addis. We got in around 10 a.m.

Anyway, South Africa was so much fun. The tournament was great, and the girls actually placed really well. We got second place in volleyball (and we could have won it all), and fourth place in soccer. This is out of 6 teams. But 4th sounds a lot worse than it actually is. We were the 5th seed, we played the 4th seed, and the winner of that match would play the number 1 seed, and the winner of that would go on to play the championship round, the loser would play for 3rd place. The 3rd seed played the 6th seed, the winner would play the 2nd seed, the winner would go on to the championship round, the loser would play for 3rd. So, as I said we were the 5th seed and played the 4th seed, LISU, the International School of Uganda. Don’t ask me what the “l” stands for. I scored two goals, one of them was a beautiful left footer that went right into the right corner of the goal, and we won the game 2-0. We went on to play the number one seed, who we had lost to 1-0 the day before, but we really made them work hard. At the end of the game we were still tied 0-0, so we went into 10 minutes of sudden death overtime. We switched sides at 5 minutes, and at the end of the full ten, the game was still 0-0. So, we took penalty shots, since it was 6-a-side-soccer, five players from each team would shoot on the other team’s goalie. The other team, ISK, International School of Kenya, made their very first goal, and no others. We made none. Thus the game was over. We played for 3rd place and lost 1-0. ISK went on to win the soccer championship versus AISJ, the American International School of Johannesburg, the host school, and they also later beat us in 3 sets of volleyball.

As disappointing as it was to not win when we were so close and could have done so well, I am really proud of my team. We played really well and put so much spirit into what we were doing. Also, we won the sportsmanship award for being so spirited. We were always cheering each other on with our dorky but really fun cheers, and whenever we were down we were always trying to pick each other back up. After every game, win or lose, we had a tradition of doing our Seleme cheer. It’s an Ethiopian cheer that you hear a lot at track races and whatnot, and it’s really simple. One person calls “Seleme, seleme” and the rest of the team responds “oye seleme, aha.” It has a certain tune/incantation to it, and is really nice. We added our own twist at the end of it by going “aha” “aha aha” back and forth, back and forth. So, after every game we would get into a circle with our arms linked around each others’ backs and sing seleme, walking around, and at the end jumping and clapping our hands. It became a really nice tradition, and all of the teams loved it. Near the end of the tournament, teams even joined us in it. So, we were really liked by everyone for our good spirit, and we got to meet some pretty cool people from other schools. I also made the all-star team for volleyball.

So, yeah, South Africa rocked. It was really nice to be back in a fairly 1st world country. People actually drove within their lane, even if they were driving in the wrong direction (it’s British style where the driver’s seat is on the right side, and so you drive up on the left side, instead of down… if that makes sense). One scary thing that happened was that I fainted. AISJ used to be a boarding school, and the first night we got in to Joburg too late to go to our host family’s homes, so we instead stayed at the school in the dorms, the boys in the gym. The next morning I woke up earlier than we had to, so I decided to seize the opportunity and take a shower since I had the time and the showers were open. As I was showering I slammed my elbow on the hot water handle, and it just hit a nerve. My entire arm went limp and felt really heavy; I tried to move it, but I couldn’t, it was too hard and hurt too much. I began to feel really dizzy and felt like I needed to barf, and thought to myself that I should probably get out of the shower. But there was this other reasoning voice in my head that told me “no, you have to stay, you haven’t finished your shower yet.” So I kept on showering, and suddenly found myself slumped on the floor with my back against the shower door. I got up and started showering again, but next thing I know I was back on the floor and two girls Sarah and Thea had opened the door and were helping me to get up, to get out. They told me to go sit on top of the toilet seat and take a breath, and someone went to get a teacher. Next thing I knew I was again sprawled on the floor next to the toilet and Ms. Ashby was hovering over me. After that I was fine, I made it to my room, drank some water, had some raisins and little snacks, but it was really scary. I wouldn’t have fainted in the shower had I not slammed my elbow, that seemed to be the catalyst; but I also probably wouldn’t have fainted if I wasn’t under the conditions that I was: exhaustion from traveling, I was probably dehydrated, and a lot of stress from a number of things. It was my first time fainting, but hey, I’m still here. Anyway, we got to go shopping, we saw a movie, and we went to the apartheid museum (which sounds like it would be really cool, but it kind of sucked). Speaking of apartheid, sure it’s over, but it’s only been a little over 10 years. I could still see a rift between black and white. It all seemed very segregated; even at AISJ, not many South Africans attend the school. I just didn’t feel comfortable with myself. Maybe a lot of it was in my head, or because I was coming from Ethiopia where I don’t think I could feel more comfortable and beautiful, but it just felt like a lot of the white people didn’t look at me as openly and acceptingly.

But moving on. Now I’m back home in Addis, and it seems that I’ll be absent from school for even longer. A lot of people aren’t attending schools because it’s still kind of dangerous to be out. ICS is one of the only schools actually open this week, but it’s not at all mandatory to attend. For a lot of the kids who live right next to school it’s easy to get there without any trouble, but for those living in CMC, we have to cross a lot of terrain, and who knows what you’ll come across. Nearly all of the opposition party has been imprisoned, and a lot of innocent boys have just been picked up off of the street as well. Betty’s cousin, and thus my cousin, Fafi, lives in a kind of rough neighborhood, and a lot of his friends have just been taken to jail for not having done anything. Supposedly they go to concentration camp type of things to pick cotton, they don’t just sit in jail in Addis. Betty also said that these boys were going to be used to fight a war against Eritrea, but that seems… I don’t know, ludicrous. But not many people are out, and CMC has become a sort of refugee camp. It’s a closed compound where a lot of diplomats and foreigners live, so if any attack were to happen here or too close, big international stuff would go down. A lot of kids who live nearby come and hang out here, and it seems like there are always people out walking around the compound, so as not to go stir crazy in their homes. It was actually so weird, this week is a sit-in strike as well, so that’s another reason why a lot of people aren’t going out, but as I came home from the airport, it just wasn’t Addis. The streets were so quiet and empty. I saw six little taxis the entire way, and the streets are usually jampacked everywhere. I think everything will have to blow over soon enough, it won’t blow up. I do know several people who have left the country, though. We’ll see how it all goes. Oh, my mom is coming in a week. I said she shouldn’t come now because it’s dangerous, but she had a superb counter-argument: if it’s too dangerous for her to come, it’s too dangerous for me to be here. So it’ll be really nice to see her.

So, all for now. For those of you who want to know more about the political situation here, and the social stability, it’s apparently all over bbc. Also, anyone interested in learning more about the tournament in Joburg, a website was made for it. I don’t remember the address, but if you google search AISJ, I’m sure there’s a link somewhere on their site to it. I’ll write back when I can. Until then…

Friday, November 04, 2005


A lot is going on. I don't have the time to tell about it all, but just know, a lot is going on. I never had the chance to write about the political situation in Addis. As soon as I was going to, everything settled. The current government has been ruling for 14 years, taking over after the derg, a bad time in Addis. While I don't know the details, I know that the derg regime was oppressive and corrupt, and then Melas took over 14 years ago with a democratic government, a blessing for Ethiopia. However, he made a lot of promises that he didn't act on. Recently there was an election, and the opposition against Melas' government was probably going to win. Melas swayed the ballots in many areas so that he could win. He is becoming corrupt and oppresive, just as the derg was. Now the opposition is fighting back. While the two parties claimed to be making peace and agreements with each other, they made no headway. Starting on Tuesday there were riots in the city. Now 40 people have died, and there have been attacks on expat homes. There was even a man shooting outside of Samet, a restaurant behind ICS that we hang out at a lot. I really really hope the situation calms down and doesn't explode. I really really hope that everyone in Addis is fine. I'm currently in South Africa at our ISSEA tournament. If the situation in Addis worsens, then we'll stay here an extra week. No matter what, I'm safe, but what about everyone at home? As for a tournament update, our boys aren't doing too well b/c of their lack of spirit, and they just don't really get along. We, however, have won all of our volleyball games thus far, even beating the champions from last year. Soccer, we've lost 2 games 1-0, tied 1-1, and we just won 1-0. This is all I can write for now, because I'm already late to go warm up for our next soccer game. Please, send good thoughts to those still in Addis.