St. Lucy Flute School

St. Lucy  Flute School
Class of 2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Blog Entry for 10-11-09

I apologize that the only time I am able to write to America is on the weekends. My days have become so full and I am so busy that I do not have enough time to even get my chores done. It’s Sunday in Adigrat. The sisters are finishing their retreat and I am sitting in my office room that is right next to the Chapel. I will never tire of listening to their beautiful voices as they praise God in song. It is the most beautiful sound one can listen to.
I joined them for lunch. Their retreat is over and I can visit with them again. We had a large lunch and we celebrated several special occasions with the sisters. Sr. Desta finished her retreat in Zalaambasa that lasted for 2 weeks and 4 of the house girls have committed to becoming nuns and they were dressed in their postulate veils. It was lovely. We had a great time.
I am developing a social life with the teachers. Today Seyoum and Medhanie came and we went back to Seyoum’s for a coffee ceremony at his place. This is the 4th coffee ceremony this week! I’m going to be such an addict of Ethiopian coffee by the time I leave here. Seyoum, Medhanie and I all decided Sunday afternoon was our time and we will spend it together for the next 3 months.
I was hot from the walk across Adigrat today. More than usual this time. When I got to Seyoum’s I had to take off my top layer of clothing. I know it’s not proper but I was so darn hot that I couldn’t stop sweating. I decided to not have much coffee this time around and instead I quenched my thirst and cooled myself off the Ethiopian honey wine mez. I didn’t realize that I had too much and I got a little intoxicated. I noticed that I was a little intoxicated on our walk back to the convent. As I walked Seyoum and Medhanie said, “Celine, you are walking especially slowly this evening.” I was! I had one arm holding onto Medhanie and the other arm on Seyoum. I told them that I had a little bit too much mez. They laughed and helped me back to the convent.
There really isn’t anything worse than to come home to a convent a little intoxicated. It was very difficult to sit and have dinner and keep a civilized conversation with the sisters. They knew. They all smiled at each other, with one brow raised and asked “well Celine, how was your coffee ceremony at Seyoum’s today?” I smiled at them trying my best to look sober and they laughed at me. This convent is never going to be the same. First I crash their retreat then I come back intoxicated. It’s a good thing they love me so much.
I went to my room and received a phone call from my family. I got to speak with my younger daughter for a long while. It was so nice to hear her voice. To all my family, keep the calls coming. I love hearing from you.
By the time I went to bed I had a bit of a headache. Next time I will be more conservative with my consumption. This is payback time…..

Blog entry 10-10-09

The flute class is doing excellent. I have combined all of the students into classes. I have a total of 26 St. Lucy flute students in one class, 10 teachers in another, and 10 Child-headed household students in yet another class. I teach 6 private lessons and the demand for more private instruction is climbing. I’m in need of another flute teacher and soon. Anyone out there that wants to join me?
Parent’s Day was today so Seyoum and I decided to have the flutes perform for them. We performed selections from “Learn to Play the Flute” and Seyoum wrote an arrangement of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” and I played variations over the theme as they played.
To prepare for the concert I needed to teach the students performance etiquette. This was so much fun. As I worked with the kids showing them how to walk on and off stage with their flutes crossed in front of theme they all laughed as I pretended to be scared or giggly. I taught them to watch my baton as I conduct and how to take a bow. One of the hardest things in this process though was getting the students to not to talk while on stage. As soon as one student had a problem all the children had to make sure that student was told exactly what they’re doing wrong. I must have had the children walk on and off the stage 20 times before they finally got it and did it quietly.
What a wonderful experience this was for the students to perform for the parents. Both the parents and the students really love it. After I started the students and the teachers on the “Twinkle, Twinkle” number I turned around with my flute in hand to play. The hall was packed with parents and their faces light up as I began my performance. They were extremely delighted to hear this and it showed in their smiling faces. When we finished the hall was filled with loud applause and the flute ensemble and I all took a bow. I sat down with the teachers and Sr. Letteselassie stood up and shared with the audience that I have come from America on my own behalf. I have worked to get donations of flutes and money to make this program come together. The parents stood up and applauded. They appreciated it so much. Thank you to all who helped me make this happen. The students are reaping the benefits of your generosity. Several parents stood up and gave me big compliments and again the audience exploded in applause. I have never felt so appreciated in my musical career as I did this morning. I truly felt blessed the most at that moment.
After the ceremony, I went outside to get the students organized and to send them back up to the staff room to put away the flutes and music. Several parents approached me and kissed and hugged me. It was so wonderful to meet such lovely people. I don’t think I am able to convey in words my joy that I felt from the students and the parents on this day.
Later that afternoon, Seyoum approached me to tell me that our flute ensemble has been hired to perform for a benefit concert next Sunday. I’m so excited. What I wanted to happen is now happening. The students are beginning to perform for the public. This is terrific!!!
I’m waiting on a couple of my friends. Typical Ethiopians, they are late. They said they would be here at 2pm to take me to a coffee ceremony but its 2:20pm right now. I suspect I will see them by 2:30pm. As I’m waiting I’m sitting on the outside steps of the convent and looking out onto the courtyard which leads to the orphan’s house. The sun is out and it is hot! In the courtyard they are large piles of dirt and gravel everywhere due to the construction that is going on for St. Lucy’s. I watch this woman who is piling large piles of gravel onto a large sheet of cardboard and carrying it over to the St. Lucy statue to inlay around the new masonry that has been built for the statue this week. These piles of gravel are substantial in size and they have to be heavy. I am in awe at her as I watch her take one pile after another over to the statue. She empties the gravel and rakes it into place and continues back for another pile. Never complains, just works. As I watch her I realize how easy we have it in America. We would never see such a thing. If anything we would see several men doing this job and they most likely would have shovels and a wheel barrel to help carry the gravel across the courtyard. We are so fortunate, we have so much, here I watch this woman and she has nothing but yet she never complains and she works very hard. Its little things like this that I notice that make such a difference on my perception of life, its all about what’s important and what isn’t. Truly the most important things in life are what is valued.
I look beyond her and I see 2 beautiful birds in brilliant green and gold flying around. They are gorgeous. I remember Safia saying they look like flying jewels. “This place is so beautiful,” I think to myself as look around. There is so much for me to appreciate with myself, what I have, and the value of life. There is so much for me to learn and so much for me to look at. If it’s not the beautiful flowers and landscape by day, it’s the star riddled sky and illuminating moon by night. There is always so much to appreciate here in Ethiopia. It is at these moments I stop and thank God for allowing me to be part of this world.
For the last 2 days we have had much cooler weather and a good amount of rain. I have to say that it has been nice to have couple of days of cooler weather. I love the sun but it has been intense since I have arrived. My skin is darker and my hair lighter because of it. In these last 2 days though the rain has poured down in sheets to where the school yard fills into puddles in a matter of seconds. It is amazing to watch. At night the rain bangs on the metal and marble walls of the convent making the splash extremely loud. I sat by my open window just listening to it. Adigrat and the surrounding areas are all much greener because of it and more flowers are blooming! Everything is beautiful.
It’s 2:30pm and I just received a phone call from my friends. “Celine where are you? We have been waiting outside the gate for 30 minutes.” I felt so bad. Nobodies late, I’m wrong to think of such an accusation.
My friends Gebremedhin and Gebrejohannes and I walked across Adigrat. We arrived at Froweynis an hour late because of me! Inspite of our tardiness, we enjoyed her delicious coffee ceremony. She of all the people in Adigrat makes the best Ethiopian coffee. If anyone comes I will ask her to make the ceremony for you so you can enjoy it too. Usually after we have all fed each other of popcorn, teacakes, and bananas we dance to some Tigrai music. This time though I brought my computer to introduce them to some Jimi Hendrix and Tom Waits. They loved it! Gebremedhin and Gebrejohannes got up and starting dancing. Froweyni and I clapped our hands as they shouted out how much they loved the music.
A bit later, both Gebremedhin and Gebrejohannes wanted me to teach them the computer. These two fellows are extremely bright and are always asking me to teach them more and more. So I gave them their first computer lesson. I introduced them to Microsoft word. Both wanted to have all the time on the computer and they would shove each other out of the way trying to make documents. I taught them how to make a document and save it. Now I have at least 30 documents saved that say things such as Celine is nice, Celine is a beautiful person, Celine loves music, and Celine is a very good teacher. It was too cute to delete them so I left it. Then I taught them to play solitaire. This was even funnier to watch them than learning word. One would yell at the other (In Tigrinya) because of a mistake shoving the other out of the way so that he could fix the mistake. Froweyni and I were in tears laughing. Good times….
I arrived back at the convent late for supper. I kissed my dear friends good-bye and ran to the dining room. As I entered I could hear Beethoven’s 6th Symphony playing. I walked in delighted! “I’ve played this piece” I shouted out loud so happy to hear the music. The tables were all separated this evening which made me stop and pause in wonder for a moment. The sisters all looked up at me, smiled and nodded that they heard me. I thought this to be slightly peculiar so I got my food and sat down. Usually I enter the dining room and we all acknowledge each other and the room is filled with conversation. I noticed no one was talking. I looked around and finally I couldn’t handle the silence. I asked the sisters in a rather inquisitive voice, “Why are all of you so quiet?” “Why isn’t anyone talking?” Sr. Mary leaned over and whispered, “Celine, shhh, we are on retreat.” OMG, I felt so bad!!!! I looked up and all the sisters were leaned over their plates and their shoulders were shaking in laughter. Here I come in boisterous and happy from my enjoyable afternoon of dancing, coffee and laughter and I completely crash their retreat.
I quietly finished my supper as best as I could. The quietness made me get the giggles and because I couldn’t laugh out loud made the situation even funnier. Through chokes of laughter I managed to eat my dinner. Then I picked up my dishes and proceeded to the kitchen to wash them. The sisters moved about doing their chores quietly. I did the same. As I was drying my water glass the glass accidently slipped out of my hands and crashed on the floor. A bomb my as well went off in the convent that night. It was so loud. All the sisters broke their silence as they ran to see if I was ok. I felt so bad. I always cause such distraction, even when I don’t try. I finished the day showing Sr. Bindu pictures of Sassie. Safia, she loves them. I am making her a disk to take to India to show her family when she goes on vacation. She misses you very much and sends you her love.

Monday, October 5, 2009

October 5th, 2009

Went to Seyoum’s for coffee ceremony yesterday, we had such a blast. He gave me my cell phone and first thing on the agenda was to call America to hear my husband’s voice. Seyoum even got the chance to talk with my husband. I need to let you know it’s expensive for me to call America so please call me. My number is 011 251 9 14 18 0071. I have my phone on me at all times and I would love to hear from you.
One way to call Ethiopia is to go to and set up a phone line with them. It is only .5cents per minute to talk and the reception is excellent. I know this because I used it for my conversations to call Ethiopia when I was in America.
Seyoum was adorable. He was very happy and excited to earn his degree. He picked me up in a new suit looking very dapper. I made him a bouquet of flowers and gave it to him which made him very happy.
At Seyoum’s, his good friend Hemwit was making us coffee. When she saw me, we hugged so hard. I love Hemwit, she is the sweetest thing. She has worked on her English so she and I had a conversation together. She’s not bad.
I met Seyoum’s sister’s boyfriend, can’t remember his name though. He also visited with us. Seyoum now has a TV so we watched ETV (Ethiopian Television) while we visited and had coffee. Then a surprise came: Soloman Twabe showed up. He was visiting for the weekend and decided to pay Seyoum a visit. He was really surprised to see me. We also embraced and had a nice visit. He is teaching Ethiopian traditional music in Mekele on the krar and washnit (traditional instruments) at a private school.
Seyoum and Medhanie thought it to be a good idea to buy some mez (honey wine). They bought a big bottle of it. Medhanie got a little drunk. Every time a song came on the TV; he would get up and start dancing. It was so much fun. Then Seyoum and Soloman Twabe would join in. You should see Ethiopian men dance. They do this shaking of the shoulders that is very fast while they move their legs up and down in a jumping style. It made me laugh so hard. Medhanie wanted me to start drinking. He tried to pour me more mez but I remember when I was at his mother’s the first time she fed me so much sewa (Ethiopian beer) that I got drunk and couldn’t stop laughing. I told Medhanie no and I gave it to him instead and watched him get even happier. It was pretty funny.
We left Seyoum’s around 7:20pm. The sky was dark and the moon full. What a beautiful night to walk through Adigrat. Dan, my husband called, and I could talk with him as we walked back to the convent. It was very nice.
I know this is not all about the flute school, general music and English classes I’m giving but I have to say I love sharing about the social part of my trip with all of you too. I think it is fun to let everyone know what it is like to spend time with these beautiful Ethiopian people. I have such a good time. I hope you come and enjoy them as much as I have done so far.
Today is National Flag Day in Ethiopia. I’m wearing their flag in honor of their country today. I feel so fortunate to be part of this world.
Send me an email or call me.
Love to all and God bless,

October 4th, 2009

Salaam Family and Friends,
I’m still having trouble with my adaptor to transfer my pictures to my thumb drive. I might have to just go and buy a new camera or at least an adaptor. I want in the worst way to share my pictures with you. Hopefully I can figure something out soon. I have discovered that I can send pictures; it’s just a matter of getting them to my computer.
It’s Sunday here in Adigrat. I attended Mass at the Cathedral and just finished breakfast with the sisters. Poor Sr. Nigesti got sick at church today and had to be walked back to the convent. I felt bad for her. This afternoon I will meet up with Seyoum, Medhanie, and Ata and we will go to Seyoum’s for coffee ceremony and to celebrate his college graduation.
This young man is truly amazing. He paid for and finished his degree in Amharic (Ethiopian national language) and not once did he miss one flute class or one day of teaching at St. Lucy’s. He designed all the programs for the school including the end of the year concerts and all of the flute student’s performances done over the summer, including several compositions he wrote for them.
Seyoum’s primary purpose for teaching at St. Lucy’s is so that the money he makes goes to his family. He uses the money to buy his parents and younger sibling’s food so they can eat for the month. The young man’s salary is only $1000.00 birr per month which equals to less than $100 American dollars. He has absolutely nothing and what he does have he gives to his family.
Seyoum is extremely hard working and very dedicated to his flute and the teaching of the flute. He has told me that he has been offered several jobs but has turned them down because he wants to remain dedicated to his flute studies. His life long dream, even before he met me, is to come to the USA and study music, get a degree in music education, then return to Ethiopia where he can continue to develop a music program in Adigrat. This young man is deserving of our attention. Seyoum deserves our time, love, and support. Please consider him and see what you can do to help him achieve his dream.
Last year I began teaching Seyoum. At that time he went home to his family’s house for lunch everyday. The distance is 8km away from the school. When he began to help me with the house orphans, I discovered that he skipped lunch so that he could be back at the school in time to help me. When I discovered that this teacher I told the sisters that I would not eat lunch until I knew someone was feeding him. If you ever get the chance to meet Seyoum, which I truly hope you do, he is all but 100lbs. He is from a very poor family that lives outside of Adigrat and is one of 5 children. They are people like this in these remote parts of the world that are so talented but without people like you and me to meet them no one would know of them or help them. They would live their lives not knowing their full potential.
The other day I met the chemistry teacher at St. Lucy’s, he is another lovely person. He is an excellent chemist and teacher but the school cannot afford the equipment for him to conduct his labs. Just imagine, when you were in school, how much we learned by dissecting a frog, or to mix a chemical compound, oh how we are so lucky and have taken so much for granted. These children at St. Lucy’s only get to read about this experience in books. They are begging to learn more. Please, we are so fortunate, is there anyone out there that can help this school? As well, the children need maps and globes of the world. They have one map that us used in all 16 classrooms. In addition, I began English lessons with the children. I discovered that they only have steno type books to learn their penmanship. The younger grades 1-4 could use writing books to learn to properly write the English letters of our alphabet. There is no guidance and often the reason why the children do not read or write in English is because legibly it is too difficult for them to do so.
The school has a library, but needs a music room, art room, laboratory, and gymnasium. Please help me help these children to receive a better education. Please consider sending funds for this purpose. Please contact me by my email and ask how you can help or call me: or 011 251 9 14 18 00 71. (My new mobile in Adigrat).
Please I cannot ask enough send help. It’s that one small thing that one can do that will make the biggest difference to these children. Get a collection together from an organization or your church group and send either the materials or the funding for them to get the materials. Together we can bring this school into the 21st century.
Imagine the difference we can make on their lives. I believe the education is the only way to reach a mind. I believe the potential of these children and teachers is infinite and we can make this difference.
Let go of 1 latte per day. Save that money. Give it to OMCA to better educate the outside villages on the rampage of HIV/AIDS. Help them develop an awareness program to stomp out this problem. Collect funds and send it to the school to help the children expand their minds. Please help. If you were here and saw these amazing and beautiful children you would truly understand my plea.
As Mother Teresa said, “If you look to the masses you will not help, but if you look to the one you can.” Look to just one area to help. Please….
God Bless,

Sunday, October 4, 2009

October 3rd, 2009

Dear Family and friends,
Today I spent most of my day with Medhanie. After I gave him a long flute lesson we went out and visited over Mango drinks. These are delicious. It is fresh mango blended like a fruit smoothie. They are served with lime and usually take about 30 minutes to drink because they are very rich.
While visiting with Medhanie, I discovered the painting of the world that is behind the flute students in the picture that is posted on my blog is his work. He hand designed it and made a map of our earth for the students to learn from. Take a look at it when you look at the blog. It looks like a real map.
Later on that day Medhanie helped me with the house girls with their flute lessons. The girls are doing well but still struggle with their rhythm. Rhythm is also difficult for Medhanie to understand too. So his translation was not the best and the lesson ended with the girls a little frustrated. Seyoum is in Mekele right now getting his diploma and will not be back until tomorrow. I will talk with him and have him help with some of my broken Tigrinya to get the girls to understand. I told the girls not to worry; rhythm is often difficult a lot of students to understand.
Medhanie invited me to his house for coffee ceremony. We walked across town to his home. It was 3 o’clock in the afternoon. The sun was blazing hot. Medhanie and I were finding it difficult to walk in such hot heat. He hailed a cab for us to take to his home. A cab in Adigrat, Ethiopia is a horse drawn buggy. We got on the buggy and the driver sailed through the center of town at record speed. I couldn’t figure out what the hell the hurry was all about. He hit that poor skinny horse so many times. I wanted to take his whip and hit him a few times. The driver was making me angry and I have forgotten the lack of animal rights in this country. The poor horse whinnied in pain as he hit it. The buggy one-wheeled itself several times as we leaped over rocks. I thought for certain he was going to flip us upside down. I hung onto Medhanie for dear life.
We arrived at Medhanie’s home and I quickly got off the buggy. Medhanie laughed at me as I jumped off so quickly. We walked through his gate into a compound that has several homes that enclose a center square. In the square were several lines of laundry drying in the sun and several gardens. His mother, whose name is Lemlem, heard our voices and ran out to meet us. I met his mother once before when Safia, Seyoum, and I all went to Medhanie’s for dinner one night. She embraced me tightly and I embraced her back tightly. She said several very sweet sounding words in Tigrinya and escorted me into their little home.
Lemlem was busy making the coffee. Coffee ceremony in Ethiopia is a big deal. I am not sure if the ceremony has been explained or not in some of our previous blogs so I will reiterate the process of the coffee ceremony for you to understand.
In Ethiopia, men say, if women want to have a good talk they have a coffee ceremony. That is because the coffee ceremony takes a long time and gives the women an afternoon to visit. In our case, the ceremony is for me as a guest and it is something to do in honor of the guest. First the room has to be prepared. Palm leaves and assorted flowers are gathered. The palm leaves are laid on the floor and flowers are scattered all over the palm leaves. This natural carpet covers a space of about 4-6ft in width and about 2-3ft in length. Next a fire is started with a chimney type BBQ. It’s small, 12-14 inches high and 12 inches wide. Fire is started underneath and coals are placed on top of the BBQ area. When the coals are ready (similar to when a BBQ is ready) the person performing the coffee ceremony puts the green coffee beans in a small round pan and proceeds to roast the beans over the fire. Smoke fills the room with the heavenly scent from the BBQ and the roasting beans. The smell is delightful and can put any Starbucks to shame. After the roasting is completed, the beans are hand ground into the consistency of espresso. Several heaps of the ground beans are put into the Jebena. A jebena is a hand held ceramic coffee carafe. Water is added to the jebena and the coffee maker begins the brewing process.
To brew the coffee, the water boils. The maker transfers the hot boiling ground coffee into another cup and turns and swirls the grounds around, then returns it to the jebena. The coffee boils again and again and the turning process is done several times. When the coffee is ready several small espressos size cups are put on a tray. Large heaps of course ground cane sugar is put into each small cup. The jebena is plugged with a scouring type of clothe to filter the ground beans. The coffee begins to be poured. The maker fills all cups without stopping. This means that she will go from cup to another pouring the coffee. Often the coffee spills onto the saucers. The small cups are filled to the brim and then served to the guest with a small spoon.
Incense accompanies the making of the coffee by putting one of the hot coals into a bowl of incense. Then popcorn is hand popped over the fire and sugar is added to the popping corn. The popcorn is poured out onto a large platter and is put with several pieces of hard candy and a large loaf of round bread on top. Sometimes fruit is also served, such as banana or mangos.
The guest is asked to break the bread into fourths and take a piece of bread, popcorn, and candy. The head of the household will begin the ceremony with prayer and then we eat the bread, popcorn, and candy with our coffee as we visit. Visiting and talking is done through this entire time.
The coffee is made in 3 rounds. The first cup is the strongest, the second is weaker and the third is the weakest. I was told the names of each round but I didn’t write them down. That will have to come in another blog. It is a lot of fun and a great way to visit with each other.
Next Lemlem, got up and began to chop onions, garlic, and potatoes. I asked Medhanie what is she doing and he said, “She is cooking.” Well duh, I thought. I figured she must be starting their dinner. Next she sautéed the garlic, onion, and potatoes in butter and cooked them over the fire of the small BBQ. She cracked 3 eggs, whisked them and added them to the mixture. I started to feel that maybe Medhanie should take me home so he could be back in time for his dinner. Lemlem got a large plate, added several biscuits to the plate and scraped the eggs onto the plate. Medhanie stood up and thanked his mother and she left. Then Medhanie sat down and said grace. I was surprised. Lemlem made US dinner.
In Ethiopia, this is custom. The mother will not allow her guest to leave her home hungry. At first I wasn’t sure what to think of this but Medhanie explained to me. I thought that was very generous of her.
M y visit with his family continued. I felt very special sitting their spending a Saturday afternoon in an Ethiopian home. I enjoyed watching some funny Ethiopian movies with his family too. The afternoon was delightful. I was surprised at how well I could understand the Tigrinya in the movies.
It was getting late and I wanted to make it back to the convent before dark. I told Medhanie I need to go.
As we walked back to the convent the evening air was much cooler and the walk was a nice distance. I ran into several of my students from my general music classes. I love it when I see them. They ran to me, we hugged and kissed and then they began to speak to me in English. I was very pleased with them. They are practicing my assignments I gave them last week. It is my hope that by the time I leave Adigrat I will have all the children able to hold a conversation with me. That way when some of you come to Adigrat the language barrier will not be such an issue.
I have to say Ethiopian customs are so eloquent. Their gestures are of kindness that is true and simple. It makes the Ethiopian happiest to give and make things comfortable. I always feel so special to be around these people. I cannot help myself; I fall in love with them every time. They are truly beautiful. I am very blessed indeed to be here.