Dear Family and Friends,
It comes a time when all things are not perfect and this trip seems to be the case. I hate to have to report bad things but I guess that is part of life and even in the best circumstances things can go a rye.
I have been putting this information off because I don’t want to report bad news. But here it is: when I came to Adigrat I was very unwelcomed by a person. I won’t say who because I am a person that will not harm another person’s reputation. I was very anxious to see this person so as soon as I arrived I ran to see this person. Upon my greeting it was obvious this person was not happy to see me. I went into the school office and I was told that I can’t sing with the children or even help them in their English classes. I was told that St. Lucy’s school could care less for my flute school and that they no longer supported it. I asked what was wrong and this person said nothing was wrong. Well, wtf??? I thought, I have traveled 8,000 miles to come and help these children and I’m greeted like this. I again asked and this person wouldn’t give me a straight answer, just a slew of excuses such as: the parents are angry at my flute class. I have become too good of friends with some of the teachers. Parents wrote a letter to the school about my flute class because it was disruptive to some of the student’s grades and they were beginning to fail in the classes. I asked to see this letter but this person could not produce it. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know how to respond to this. I really didn’t understand.
The school bell rang and it was time for the students to go home. I went out to greet the children. They screamed for joy to see me again and literally ran to hug and kiss me. I was delighted to see them. I saw several of the teachers and they were equally happy to see me. The children all chanted: “Celine, Celine, Celine.” It was wonderful. I was then thoroughly confused as this person’s response to me. From the greeting of the children and the teachers it looked like they were overwhelmingly overjoyed to see me again.
After I sent the children off to their homes, Seyoum came to greet me. He was in a meeting across town and one of the teachers called him. He left and ran across town. We embraced as strong as we could. We were so happy to see each other. At that time the flute students came. Delighted to see me and asked me to come to their class. I went in, they all prepared for the class. They put their flutes up as Seyoum directed them and played. Wow, how fantastic they sounded. Unbelievable with the progress they had come to from my last visit. The students have really improved. I applauded all of them and they were very happy to have me share with them my enthusiasm of their growth.
After the class I sat with teachers Seyoum, Gebremedhin, and Gebrejohannes. They shared with me the reasons why this person in the office was angry because there is a teacher who is extremely jealous that I have been helping them. Whether I’m working on a sponsorship for Seyoum into America or that I have sent them money to help them and their families. I found out that teacher was one of my very good friend’s I had become very close to from my last visit. I was devastated when I heard of such information. I heard a slew of lies that was unbelievable. I was very offended at such gossip. I couldn’t believe that my dear friend had betrayed me so unbelievably. From this gossip these teachers had lost their jobs. These teachers are devastated because now they don’t know what to do for work so that they can support their families. I’m not just talking about their wives and children. These teachers also support their parents and pay for their siblings to get an education too. I was horrified to learn all of this. When I went to bed on my first night, I spent the night crying and praying to God to help these teachers.
The next day, I went to town to make some new copies of music. It was obvious the students were ready to move forward in their lessons. At the next class the flute students were given a new rhythm assignment. They sight read it. Then I gave them a full page of music with dynamics as the subject. They gulped up that information too. They read the page without effort or mistake. I then gave them a trio. Again, sight read it and as a trio. I couldn’t believe it. I was so proud of them.
In my curriculum, I teach the flute as an extension of them. I have them learn music as a language, similar to what Suzuki and the Gordon Music Learning theory is all about but with a literal understanding as well as aural training. This education is harder to teach and it takes longer to learn. But if the student becomes successful in this theory then the student can read anything or play that is within their known vocabulary of music, including their rhythm. It’s pretty amazing to watch. Here I am in Ethiopia where I still struggle with speaking Tigrinya but the language of music has penetrated these students. They are all so smart and so eager to learn. I am deeply impressed with them. I thanked Seyoum tremendously for helping teach these students and he commented “It wasn’t me who taught them Celine it was you. Your curriculum and skill as a teacher has taught these students so many things.” I almost cried.
The next day several teachers approached me with sadness as they learned I couldn’t come to their classes to have the students learn new songs and help them with their English. Several commented on how stupid it was to restrict me to only flute classes as the education I bring to these students will expand their minds.
As the week went on the students continued to welcome me with hugs and kisses. The person that treated me badly was not going to stop me from teaching my flute school. The only unfortunate thing is that this person has given St. Lucy’s school a bad feeling inside me and because of that I don’t think I will not return for a while.
After some meditation I remembered the life of St. Paul and his mission work. St. Paul never gave up. So I won’t either, no matter how hard it gets. I’m penetrating a culture as well as a judgmental person. Chin up, Celine. You can do this.
Fr. Larson told me on my first trip “don’t give up no matter how hard it gets. You are doing a beautiful thing and keep your focus on the children.” I’m literally chanting this in my mind daily, even hourly as I go forward with the school. Thank God for these things I have learned in my life as they are my source of strength in this difficult time. I am alone right now. Being alone, being unwanted, and so many miles away from those you love makes this even harder. I pray God will give me the strength to persevere.