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Xiabier Misgin.

October 31, 2009

Well, today’s the day. My trip has finally come to an end.

It occurred to me that I should post something about what I’ve learned over the last six weeks, considering the amazing experience I’ve had and the impact I’m sure it will have on my life. Trouble is, it’s impossible to pack six weeks of sweat, work, food, wildlife, friends, language, and knowledge into a neat little blog post-style package. So, instead, I’ll just talk about a few of the things I’ve learned about myself on this trip.

I shall call them my Points of Sunshine, cut down a bit from the 13 months of sunshine that Ethiopia boasts.

Point of Sunshine #1: Turns out, I can survive living in a developing country!

It's a tough job, but somebody's gotta do it...

But in all seriousness, I think I surprised even myself with how well I was able to adapt to my surroundings. Who knew that decades of forced Ranch And Deer Lease-ness would help prepare me for a career of international economic development? Parents, I apologize for ever whining about bugs, heat, lack of sanitation facilities, and any other ranch-related inconvenience we experienced over the years. That said, I reserve the right to still complain due to bugs, heat, lack of sanitation facilities, etc.ย  Because now I can see that in the States, we’ve got no excuse. ๐Ÿ™‚

Point of Sunshine # 2: I will be applying for PhD programs in the coming year.

Dr. Lisa (ha, not yet), addressing the multitudes.

Experiencing the on-the-ground policy debates here has convinced me that there is so much I can do, and to do those things, I need the credibility and experience of getting my PhD. This will likely lead to great headaches, freakouts, and stress (sorry friends and family!), but in the long run will be so so worth it, particularly when I can travel to countries like Ethiopia as Dr. Lisa!

Point of Sunshine #3: A little language goes a looong way. Or to put it another way, I can speak English on Monday, but can you speak Amharigna on Tuesday?

Tinish tinish amharigna

Knowing a few key phrases, like the title of this post “Xiabier misgin”, which means, Thanks Be to God, have helped me tremendously in building credibility and relationships here in the country and in the survey sites. My feeble attempts to bark the “eh” in “teff”, while humorous, also showed my colleagues my sincere desire to learn about their language, despite sounding like an idiot. This was much appreciated, I think, particularly when I got it right (but more hilariously when I got it wrong).

Point of Sunshine # 4: The world really is as small as they say.

Fro yo in Addis

Yesterday while consuming this delicious frozen yogurt, I randomly ran into a friend of mine from high school whom I haven’t seen since we both graduated in May 2002. Let’s think about that: Lisa ran into a high school friend from Texas at a little cafe in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Is your head spinning? Cuz mine sure was! (And not just because of the Cipro, thank you very much). I’m continually amazed at how tiny the world really is, and how interconnected we all are. It’s such a great feeling.

And last, but not least, and not really last because I’m only quitting the list here so I can shut down the computer and head to the airport, I am truly blessed by God.

God is love.

Over and over again, on this trip and in my life, I find myself completely in awe of how well God has provided for me. I arrived in Ethiopia with one hand totally out of commission, terrified I would catch some horrible disease, and incredibly nervous about my immediate future in a country whose language was unreadable and made no sense to my anglo-franco-ears, and I found myself completely and totally cared for, by everyone I met. The IFPRI office staff in Addis are among the greatest people I have ever known, both from their complete and total care for others, their selfless perspective, and for their desire to improve the lot of mankind. The Ehiopian people, if such a thing exists, are pious, devout, and caring, even when they’re the poorest of the poor. I am so lucky to have been shown so much, and to have known the people I’ve known while I’ve been here. I can only pray that I can one day live up to the example I’ve been shown here.

And with that, I leave. It’s bittersweet – I’m most definitely excited to be coming home, but there’s a sharp pang when I think I won’t be coming back anytime soon. I guess I’ll just have to do my best to twist IFPRI’s arm into sending me back for a follow-up survey… ๐Ÿ™‚

Peace, Ethiopia, and go with God. I’ll be missing you.

Chau, Ethiopia.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Kassu permalink
    October 31, 2009 8:22 pm

    I’m so glad that you’ve exposed to such experiences. I know every culture ve its own diversity and richness. You’ve seen the few parts of the horizon of Ethiopian . there are so many truths and facts you’ve not reached and will hope to see in the future. In this travel you began to walk to appreciate the culture and differences of our human kind. hope you are crossing the Atlantic ocean while i’m punching these words to you.
    I do honor your appreciation and respect of the Ethiopian culture.
    I’m so grateful to meet you in future again.

  2. Rob permalink
    November 1, 2009 1:52 pm

    What a sweet post! Glad to hear that the trip worked out so wonderfully and gave you a perspective on everything. Safe travels bringing that healthy and happy attitude back to the states!

  3. November 2, 2009 3:47 pm

    Very nice post! I’m so glad that you had such a great time and learned so much while you were there. Of course, it is great to have you back at the office, too, but I can imagine coming back is definitely bittersweet. But I suspect this won’t be the last time you get to go there. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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