Afterwards I went to give Sr. Accunta some rosaries and scapulars my sister sent for her. I ran into Sr. Kahsa and Sr. Brehan (who is now the director of the school while Sr. Grace is in Italy). They stopped me and said they were just talking about me and my flute class and they wanted to talk with me. “Sure” I said and sat down. Sr. Brehan shared that I could have a room on the bottom half of the school, where grades 5-8 have their classes. I thanked her very much for letting me teach at the St. Lucy’s school. She then stressed her concern about the 8th grade students coming to St. Lucy’s after Sr. Grace said she didn’t want them around. I promised both Srs. Kahsa and Brehan that my students are extremely well behaved and respectful and I would be surprised if any of them were the culprits of that vandalism. I promised them both I will take full responsibility of that classroom and if anything happens in there I will pay for it. We agreed to this.
Sr. Brehan left and Sr. Kahsa asked me to stay on to talk some more. She asked how my flute school got started and purpose to St. Lucy’s school. I shared how I read the book, “Aids Orphans Rising” by Sr. Mary Elizabeth Lloyd and the inspiration it gave me. Sr. Mary Elizabeth Lloyd invited me to come and teach the flute to the children. I first started with only the orphan girls, then it expanded to the St. Lucy students and teachers. I went from 10 students to 60 within a week. I shared how I was asked by Sr. Reggie to help all the classes from grades kindergarten through 6 with teaching English and American songs. Then Sr. Kahsa shared some terrible news. She said because I have made strong friendships with some of the teachers that other teachers became jealous and they have been fighting with each other all year. She said that some teachers wouldn’t even work together because they were fighting so badly. She said, “I know you plan on taking Seyoum to America to go to school.” “Yes, I do plan on that” I replied. “He has helped me so much with all of my flute students. For 2 years now he has faithfully stood by my side and been there for me while I had to go back to America.” Sr. Kahsa then said: “Well this has made several teachers very jealous of your relationship with Seyoum. Then she said that I was going to take many teachers to America. “Many teachers to America?” I said, “How can I take many teachers to America?” “I don’t know Celine but all teachers are very jealous of this.” I couldn’t believe the stupidity of what I was hearing. These teachers were fighting so badly that they even stopped teaching the students. Sr. Kahsa said this whole problem was because of me and it’s my fault for all this fighting. Oh how this disturbed me. “Sr. Kahsa, the only person I made a promise to has been Seyoum. And yes, if I can, I will help him get a good music education in America. But Seyoum himself is not ready to go. He is weak on his flute. He is a fantastic musician but the only way I’m planning on getting him to America is with the flute and he simply is no where near ready to go and study in a university.” She said, “Well what about Gebremedhin?” I said, “I only wanted him to come and visit my family. He had wanted to and I offered to help him get a chance to come and visit. But the American Embassy denied his visa.” I then shared with her that I wouldn’t let him come until he had found another teacher to replace him because if he would have come to America he would have had to stop his job. I also made sure as soon as I realized his visa was denied that I got him a plane ticket to get back to the St. Lucy school so he wouldn’t be away from his class any longer that the agreed amount of time. Plus Gebremedhin made sure before he left for Addis Ababa that he got a sub to take care of students during his absence.” Then I was told that Froweyni, another teacher left for Addis to get a visa for America to see me and she left her job for 2 weeks to do this. I shared I had no idea about Froweyni or what her plans were. She said, “But you are friends with Froweyni and we know you were trying to get her to America. We know you are taking all of our teachers away and the others are feeling very jealous that you have picked only so many to take with you.” I looked at her in shock. “Sr. Kahsa, I’m not friends with Froweyni. I stopped that relationship last year because her behavior was bad to me and that she had said all sorts of lies about me and Gebremedhin, about Seyoum, and other several teachers. I have no idea about this visa or anything she is doing. Please don’t point to me about that.” “Well, we feel all of these problems have caused the directors of the St. Lucy school a lot of stress and the directors and us sisters all agree it is your fault for these problems! So we as a community have agreed that after this summer we don’t want you to come back.” Oh how sad I was to hear this. “Sr. Kahsa, I have no idea about these teachers and their fighting. Please don’t blame me for their stupid behavior. Yes, I will help Seyoum. I only was trying to help Gebremedhin come for a visit. Please don’t let me stop my flute school. I have worked and sacrificed to get these flutes, music and all these things for my flute school. Please think of the children who have worked so hard to get where they are.” I reminded them that receiving a music education as I have given them is helping these students. They are going to the 9th grade. In high school and college they only teach in English. All my students now learn in English and teach their flute students in English. I stressed how the students have shared how studying the flute has opened doors they didn’t even know existed. I was asked to teach the flute and music at the Yarmonin Gebremeskel International School but I turned it down because I only wanted St. Lucy students to have this unique education. With my entire defense she said, “We want it to stop.” I became so sad. I began to cry. I didn’t understand. I said, “What do I tell all these wonderful people in America that have helped so much and have supported me? That you don’t want my flute school anymore? What do I do with all these flutes and music I have brought? She said it wasn’t her problem. I left there in tears and went to find Sr. Mary so I could go to Golaa.
After I left I sat on a stone and cried my eyes out. I was so upset. Along came a man looking for someone and I didn’t want him to see me cry. I told him to go to the sister’s house. Sr. Negisti came by and said this is Abba so and so (can’t remember his name). He shook my hand. I’m sobbing. He began to say: “You are a child of God, Jesus loves you very much and don’t give up on what you are doing. Whatever it is, it is from God and you must continue.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing but if felt like the hand of God came down and wrapped his arms around me and comforted me. This man talked to me for more than an hour. I couldn’t stop crying. I cried the entire time he spoke to me. In all that time, he kept telling me how I was a child of God and that my gifts were more important to this school than anything else they received. I listened and sobbed. He was very kind and I was very grateful to have received such love from a stranger.
Sr. Mary and I went to Golaa. She called me into the kitchen and made me a cup of coffee. We sat and began to talk. I cried more with her as I talked. She said that she had no idea of this voting my flute school because she is part of the community and she wasn’t part of that vote. She also said this was started under the supervision of Sr. Lette and Sr. Kahsa didn’t have a right to say this. We talked for 2 hours over all these things. She said this jealousy of the teachers is for the birds. They see a foreigner and they all thinkwe should take them back to America. They think America’s streets are line with gold and their lives will be so fantastic if they get to go. I agreed with how stupid this behavior was and that any Ethiopian I know in America struggles a great deal to make it. Just like all of us Americans do too. Only a few I’ve met where they are a little more financially stable. In general most Ethiopians, who stay, not only miss their homeland, but often struggle a lot!!
My eyes were swollen from crying. I finished my evening with dealing with my daughter and the caretaking of my home. I felt what a mistake it is for me to be here. How it cost me more money this time o come. I had to borrow just so I could make it this time. I felt worthless from the sisters in the Adigrat house. I felt disgusted with the St. Lucy teachers.
Since that conversation I really haven’t made much effort to see the teachers or the sisters of the Adigrat house. I feel unappreciated so much. It really hurts.