June 28th, 2011
Dear Family and Friends,
I’m so excited; today I go to Mekelle to meet with the director of the Music Department. His name is Gizachew, can’t remember his last name. After the horrible bus ride into Mekelle, my friends and I got some hotel rooms at the Milano hotel. Although this hotel is considered to be one of the better hotels in this town, it wasn’t. The shower didn’t work, Seyoum’s toilet wouldn’t flush and it’s just what we would consider as a cheap motel room would look like.
Seyoum, Gebremedhin, and I got settled into our rooms and then met up for breakfast. Nothing fancy but the waiter tried to robbed us of more than the cost of the meal because I’m a foreigner and this always happens. My dear friends got after the waiter and made him rewrite the bill for the breakfast. Everywhere I go, because I’m a foreigner, they try to take advantage of me.
After breakfast I went to practice. BTW, practicing has been very good on this trip. This is one thing I’m very happy about. I’ve been able to practice for hours each day. It’s refreshing after a year of not being able to practice. After practicing we headed for the bus station to catch the bus taxi to the university. I learned there are 5 separate campuses for Mekelle University. I cannot remember the branch the music department is at but it’s connected to the school of law branch (not sure why). As the taxi pulled up to the university there was a lot of construction going on. The area where I will be at is brand new and parts of the music building are not even finished yet. Even the road was under construction. We hit dirt road to finish our ride to the university. As well pulled up to the campus I looked up. It’s huge. It read Mekelle University across the top and a very large Ethiopian flag stretched across one side of the entrance walls.
Seyoum, Gebremedhin, and I were met with Gizachew’s assistant to take us to his department office. We walked for some time before we reached the building for Social Sciences and Language. We entered and I was taken to Gizachew’s office. After greeting him, we talked extensively about what his vision is for this new music branch and what he would like to see for the future and growth of the arts building. I could answer every question he had. I’ve spent time now running music schools in America, developing curriculum, and running projects. With all this experience and background I simply was ready to do this job. He handed me the curriculum and I immediately began help with editing the music program. He was very impressed with my knowledge and background and was already talking about me working for the department even before I did my audition.
For my audition, I played the Carnival of Venice. It was interesting; there were no accompanists around to assist me, no music stand to play off of, and the room was dark. Didn’t matter, I knew the piece well so I played it anyway. He listened and got up to come around my side where I was playing. I had the music open just in case I couldn’t remember a part. He really liked the piece and was very impressed with my playing. By the time I finished the performance he had made a call to the Dean of the Department and arranged a meeting for me to greet with the University President.