St. Lucy Flute School

St. Lucy  Flute School
Class of 2009

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Safia's blog for March 29th

I am developing a love-hate complex with this country. There are things that you see here that break your heart and that make you feel downright hopeless at times. From the poverty to the unsolved problems people are burdened with day in and day out. If you are reliant on anything to do with technology and expect a constant source of electricity you won't get far. At times you get so frustrated with language barriers, scheduling conflicts and antsy children it brings you close to tears… but then you are always left in awe to marvel at the magnificence of the country’s landscape and you never met any friendlier people who are so accepting in your life. Today was a much needed break from the daily teaching routine. It was exhausting none the less but well worth it. We were out romping the country side from six in the morning and didn’t get back till after six at night.

The event was planned for the top students in the school as a reward for doing so well in their classes. We all were crammed into a heavily ornamented bus full of religious and pop culture icons; our first stop was to the supermarket to pick up lunch for that afternoon. Men with huge wicker baskets on their head filled with Injera were waiting for us as we pulled up. The drive was about three hours so we had to stop at neighboring towns to take a break. In a small town my aunt needed to use the restroom and judging from the look of the town I figured I wouldn’t be using the bathroom for a long time, I was okay with that. My aunt insisted we look for a bathroom anyway so guided by two of the teachers; we set in search of a rest room to use.

We stopped at a relatively clean looking shop and they said we could use their restrooms. We were lead into this back ally with blue doored stalls that lined the walls. I did not have a good feeling about the public restrooms in these remote villages…One of the teachers opened up the stalls for my aunt. I will never forget that sight and smell that was ingrained in my memory when the door swung open to reveal a hole in the middle of the floor with a black cloud of flies swarming around it, dark stains lined the outer walls and to top it off there was a fresh, steaming pile of shit just outside the hole. The stench was so foul with fragrant, spicy waste I had to cover my mouth and nose to keep from gagging. I look at my aunt and she is doing the same thing. The teachers start laughing at us and asking us what's wrong, my aunt just replied. “Never mind, I’ll just go on a rock…” and back to the bus we go.

After a long drive we get to a massive, rocky mountain and I forget the name of what it is called. Up at the top there is an Ethiopian Orthodox church which is dated back before the “birth of Christ” but the exact date of its completion is unknown. The church is literally carved by hand into the mountain. As we start to make our way up the rocky path twists and turns and as we get to even higher elevation my lungs are giving me grief, it had been forever since I had gone on my last hike. I am proud and surprised at myself though, I made it to the top only stopping for brief moments to capture the landscape in a photograph, I didn’t take my sweater off, nor take a drink of water or eat a fasting cake and was hauling my camera around my neck which meant I only had one hand free. There were times it was an adrenaline rush because the paths were narrow and rocky and one slip was a sure plummet to your death. The view got only more breath taking as we traveled higher to the top and finally when we made it there all was a perfect vision of tranquility with the entrance to the church beckoning weary travelers to come into the save haven of its walls with a tree in the middle of its courtyard. We had to wait half and hour for the priests blessing so we could enter. The resting time was welcomed by all so everyone got a chance to catch their breath and cool off under the shade.

When the time came to enter into this sacred and primeval place, we were required to take our shoes off and enter in the cathedral barefoot. The gravity of how old this place really was hit me as soon as I entered its chiseled grotto. The inner caves were sculpted into cathedral arches, the rays of light that shined in revealed ancient paintings that covered all the walls. Intricate designs were engraved on every base and corner. It was so amazing to be standing in such a place so old and untouched. People were treating it with the utmost respect and it did have a very sacred and sobering presence about it. The students that were with me got an explanation and history about the place but it was all in Tigrinya so I couldn’t understand it unfortunately. We were shone the tabernacle for a moment but no one was allowed to enter in (I have plenty of pictures and can’t wait to show them to you all!) Then it was time to leave and head back down the mountain.

When we got back down it was time to eat lunch, the wicker baskets were brought out and huge plates of injera filled with potatoes, onions, tomatoes and peppers were placed into the middle of four groups of adults and kids. They all eat from one plate; there is no separation of the food. To most this would be considered unhygienic but it’s actually quite a bonding experience for the people. Everyone assumed since my aunt and I were Americans that we would just sit inside the bus away from everyone else eating our plain eggs, bread and crackers. That was not at all what we intended to do. We left our food inside and sat down on the ground with the teachers and ate with our hands. The teachers were thrilled to have us join them, they hand fed my aunt and laughed and joked with us about being so foreign to their customs. One man scooped up a burger size handful of injera and in one bite ate the ENTIRE THING and did it over and over again. My aunt and I were shocked, I never new it was possible to stuff that much food down your throat without choking. Really this would be like if someone you knew stuffed an entire whopper down their throat in one bite. What was even more impressive was that a little boy came up and he scooped up the same massive amount of food and fed it to the boy, the boy ate it in one gulp. Quite amazing and vaguely disturbing but it was a wonderful time to bond with the teachers and students.

We visited another church very similar to the first that was made out of the mountain stone that dated back to the 4th century A.D. usually men are only allowed in these churches but today we were given permission to take in the presence of its ancient beauty. When outside we were given this special dirt that had a vivid red color to it was blessed from the priest of the church. People were taking it and storing it in paper cones, this dirt is held in such high esteem by the people they literally eat it because they believe it has healing powers and turns into medicine when ingested. It’s the equivalent to holy water for Catholics. I did not realize this but it had all been explained to my aunt and when she was offered some she took a pinch and placed it in her mouth! I was shocked and without realizing how indignant I sounded said “Did you just eat dirt!?” The people chuckled and explained to me why and then I was offered some. I looked at it; dirt really did not seem appetizing. My aunt convinced me just a tiny pinch out of respect because I was offered, it wouldn’t hurt. I took a pinch and literally ate dirt, it was tasteless but the sand left a lovely grainy feeling in between my teeth and gums. I was told to put it in my water and it would make the water “medicinal water” it was very interesting to say the least.

The ride back home had to be one of the most entertaining and nerve wrecking rides I have ever been on. The roads here are full off hills and steep turns with no lanes and no barriers so if the bus driver does not turn in time then you drive off a cliff, no joke. There are endless hills and you can’t see past the corners or over the top of the hills to tell if a car is coming strait at you or not. These people also drive really fast and take corners sharply and this is a bus packed with people. What makes this ride so entertaining is that my aunt has really bad vertigo and is terrified the whole drive home. When my aunt gets like this she screams and swears and is the worst backseat driver you could imagine.

Since she is in the presence of nuns and children she is trying to keep her composure and is not doing very well. As we are climbing higher and higher up these dirt mountain roads, squeaks, squawks of sheer terror emit from her mouth and shrill “OH MY GOD!” shouts escape. Her face twists and contorts in every effort not to swear loudly. Only half of the derogatory word comes out before she tries to recover such as: “Holy shiiieaaaawww!” She would then start talking madly under her breath about how crazy this driver is and how he is going to kill us all. Granted this driver was driving irresponsibly to U.S. driving standards and I was also nervous but because I was watching my panic stricken aunt right next to me gripping on to the handle bars for dear life with the funniest expressions fear on her face, hair blowing every which direction – I could not stop laughing. I was crying I was laughing so hard. I wasn’t the only one; the whole bus was practically rolling from watching this poor damsel in distress.

After three hours of that we finally made it back home in one peace, the teachers and kids did a little thanksgiving dance around the school yard that was really sweet to watch, despite the fact that most of these children and teachers have almost nothing at all they are some of the happiest and playful people I have ever met. My exhausted aunt collapsed on the bed and I took a much needed shower. The water turned a dark shade of brown because of how much dirt we collected on ourselves from hiking and having it blown in from the dirt roads we drove upon. I was tired, sweaty, and dirty and sun burnt but the happiest I have been in a long time. It was a truly an amazing experience I will hold dear to me for the rest of my life.

Last blog entry from Ethiopia

April 29th 2009

As our trip draws to a close my aunt and I are finding it rather hard to say goodbye, it’s like we have been living in denial for the past week and now that we are on the eve of our last day the reality is hitting us that we are going to leave this life behind, we are going home in America.

There is a mixture of sadness but equal excitement to see our family and friends again and to be back in the city we love so much. We both wonder what it will feel like when we come back, if we will go through culture shock again because of way we have acclimated to this way of life, my aunt and I agree we both will probably feel like foreigners in our own country. However this is only phase two of our mission, we have plenty of work to do now in the states for what we have started here in Ethiopia from spreading awareness to setting up displays of my aunt’s work and the work of the natives for the American people to see for themselves.

When we first started out on this mission trip we had no idea what we were getting into we were subject to our own doubts, and perceptions of others about what it’s like in Ethiopia, a developing country with very limited luxury, disease and we had heard there were conflicts with Eritrea. I was excited to be leaving the country for the first time to Africa and terrified at the same time. When we arrived it was like something out of a story book, I had never seen life lived in such a way as the natives live, from the farmlands to the mud and clay homes with no plumbing I was in awe of everything I saw but thought I would be ready to go home after seven weeks of living in it all.

I never expected to fall so deeply in love with the people, the land, the sisters and the lifestyle. The relaxed pace that everything flows around here, the nights walking around Adigrat under a star riddled sky with close friends who have become like family to us. Eating organic food and laughing hysterically with the nuns. Traversing the landscape and exploring the magnificent mountains and valleys that stretched out as far as the eye could see with no signs of industry, just villages and farms. We have also become ritualized coffee drinkers taking part in the Ethiopian coffee ceremony almost everyday. We also have become quite fond of the Ethiopian cuisine, especially the injerra bread they eat with everything. When ever we go over to friends houses we were hand fed and were given the traditional Ethiopian drinks such as mez, also known as honey wine and Souwa which is like homemade Ethiopian beer. We have never received such warm hospitality from people who supposedly don’t have much to offer. Their first priority has been our comfort and happiness we often times feel like we are being treated like royalty here.

This experience has changed my life and opened my eyes for the better and I highly recommend anyone I know to have this kind of experience at least once in their life, get up and go live in a country that isn’t just a big, wealthy tourist resort. Go to a developing country and see for yourself how these people survive and live in such close, happy communities. Actively get involved in the community and learn a different way of life. Its one of the best things you can do for yourself. The richest person is the one who has happiness; you will find some of the richest people here. Words really can’t describe the change I have gone through and I am surprised at how much I can live without and yet I have not found myself wanting.

Ethiopia will always be in our hearts and on our mind; it will be the main subject of our discussion for the next several months. I look forward to showing everyone pictures I have taken on this journey and Celine and I have several stories to tell and have built up a multitude of inside jokes with each other. She will be going back to this wonderful place in October and I can only look forward to the day I know I will visit this wonderful place again. Until our next return we will miss Ethiopia dearly and will cherish the memories and the people in our hearts always. We will see all of YOU readers very soon!! We can’t thank you enough for your wonderful support and contributions that kept us going, we love you!

Celine and Safia
November 14, 2012

It is my committment to my family and friends that I will continue to write this blog.  Whether it is about the flute school in Adigrat, travel adventures, concerts, or university work it is my committment to my music followers to know, I'm here in Ethiopia and I'm dedicated to the change in music and music education.

Today I'm off to the Nicholas Robinson School in Mekelle.  This is a privately owned school that I feel is one of the best schools for Primary and Secondary Education in Mekelle. I will gather more information about this school and share it with all of you as I can't sum up all the incredible things this school is doing for the children, their parents who are war veterans, and the community in a simple swoop of this note.

I have a meeting with the director as I'm going to assist with getting some music teachers into the school to start after school lessons.  We are looking at doing guitar, clarinet, flute, and piano.  I've got Solomon Twabe from the St. Lucy Flute School in Adigrat who now works at another school in Mekelle.  He will become their 2nd staffed music teacher and I feel he is going to be a great addition.  Solomon can teach the guitar, bass guitar, piano, and flute.  He is a very talented man and I've seen him in performance many times.  He is very dedicated to getting music education to children.  I'm also working with the Tigray Arts College to find more teachers who are interested in assisting this program. For me, I will assist in getting the flute students going and starting up another flute school.  I have 5 flutes at the school that were donated from England and that should be enough for now. 

Since my last entry the flute students of Adigrat have been ringing my phone off the hook.  I'm not sure why.  They've told me I need to apologize, I'm not sure why on that too.  I think they have realized that their behavior was less than desired and perhaps if they really want to continue then we need to have a discussion with their parents.  I feel that since they are not orphaned the parents should have to pay for the lessons.  I mean really? Don't you agree that the parents should have to pay for music instruction just like everyone else in the world? Just because their Ethiopian doesn't mean they get the special privelage to get things free. I'm sure all of you agree that we all have to work hard for what we accomplish, otherwise we wouldn't appreciate the success in it.  Besides working toward something and creating a better Ethiopia is just what the late Prime Minister Meles Zemanawi said, isn't it?  So this is one way to improve themselves and others and build a school of music that can be shared with anyone.  For me, I love these children.  They will always hold a special place in my heart but I feel this is the only option that will help them realize their gifts and appreciate that flutes just don't grow on trees in America.

I plan to go back to Adigrat and have a meeting with their parents and discuss this important issue.  I will share with all of them that anyone who wishes to continue, can, but they will pay and they will come to Mekelle to take their classes.  Those who wish to discontinue then no problem but I will collect the flutes and music as it can be used by someone else who is less fortunate and would appreciate the opportunity to learn. After all, I'm sure my benefactors would be happiest to see their flutes, music, and money be put into the hands of students who will benefit from them.  

If your feeling a little disgruntled over the flute school, please don't be. I think all things will work out on their own time. I believe these children just need a good talking to their parents.

Tomorrow I will write about what's happening at the university.  So many wonderful changes are going on.  The department is really starting to get some shape. We have a new department head and he is doing a bang up job for the department.  I will remind all of you out there who are reading this blog to please remember this is a developing country and we could use a lot more music books in history, music appreciation, theory and harmony, composition, and choir music.  Please see if you can find a way to assist us.  Also don't forget recorders are a need for all the music students.  I have music but I need at least 50 recorders.  Are they out there?  Is anyone listening to me? I hope so. 

I miss all of you.  I especially miss my children.  I am coming home for the holidays and it's going to be great.  I love you!!!


Saturday, August 4, 2012

Dear Fellow Followers,
I can't believe it's been a year since I've put in a post.  I've been extremely busy with working at the university and taking trips to Adigrat to work with the flute students.  The flute students in Adigrat are fantastic.  We have moved into a new facility and have changed the school name to the Celine Ferland Flute School.  We still have the same mission just we've expanded our outreach to more children. We continue to grow with more flutes, financial support, and students.  It just rocks my world that I have 12 advanced players who are now teachers.  Next we plan to set up a music school for anyone who wishes to learn. This will be coming in September. 

Also, I am branching out and beginning another flute school in Mekelle.  I have about 7 flutes for this school and I will also begin that one in September.  More information will come of this too.  

Now I'm heading home to America to see my family, visit my fellow flutists at the National Flute Association, and hopefully get to Montana to hug and kiss my new grand baby. 

Thank you all for your continued support.  We are strong and we all love to play the flute here in Ethiopia. 

Much Love,

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Little Abraham

July 14, 2011
Mother Teresa Orphanage
Last Saturday Sr. Mary and I had a very nice discussion over breakfast about women in these parts and pregnancy. I learned that there are several women here that get pregnant, can’t do anything about the pregnancy so they carry it to full term and give birth. Right after birth they throw the babies away in the bushes. It’s so hard to hear about these things. Seyoum even told me how hard it is to hear the tossed baby crying.

Sr. Mary works on a project called “The Caring Project”. This project is to assist women and families who are in desperate need. It is connected to the Kavaleh (school districts) and to help mainly orphaned children get school supplies, uniforms, and their education paid for. Of course any project like this immediately expands into so many areas. One of the areas this project has expanded into is helping the prostitutes to stop giving birth to babies and throwing them away in the bushes.

As this visit has been difficult I have spent more time in personal reflection and meditation on my purpose with the flute school and the work I’ve done at St. Lucy’s. One evening I attended mass with Sr. Mary. The Deacons of Don Bosco, together with Abba Mirdoch (Polish priest who trains the deacons), has the deacons help with the mass. They help with saying the gospel, giving a sermon, and communion. One deacon decided to discuss about faith. He related it to the story of Abraham. Abraham was told by God although he was 90 years old, that he would be given a son by his wife who was 80 years old. Abraham told God this was impossible but God told him that if he has faith he will give Abraham a son. Abraham chose to have this faith and to trust in God and God’s will. This sermon spoke deeply to me as the deacon expressed our need to have faith in God. From these difficult times I really felt that I needed to do like this and have faith. I really need to trust that my purpose, although at times I can’t see my path, that I trust in God in what is going to be right for me. I took this sermon into my heart and really meditated on it.

At the breakfast with Sr. Mary and learning about this one prostitute of 19 years, she had a baby. Sr. Mary and her assistants went to her to help her not throw the baby into the bushes. So she gave the baby to Sr. Mary. Sr. Mary and her assistants took the baby to the Mother Teresa orphanage in Mekelle. As I listened to the story of this young woman, who has an older child already too, I felt something within me calling me about this baby. I learned the baby is 7 months old and that after its second birthday he will be put into a boarding school until he is an adult and can get himself to high school. I was deeply sad to hear of this child’s fate. I asked Sr. Mary what the mother is going to do. She shared that the project is going to work hard with the mother to rehabilitate her, get her an education, and get her into a job so she can take her son back. But Sr. Mary also explained that after working with this woman, she said, “yes I can do that but I can also keep on doing what I’m doing now.” Which means this woman is perfectly happy being a prostitute. As I listened to Sr. Mary I was very sad for this little boy. What is going to happen to him? What if the mother can’t rehabilitate herself? How many more pregnancies is she going to have and throw away the babies? I asked Sr. Mary; since I was in Mekelle can I visit the child? “Of course you can Celine, just go to the orphanage and ask to see him.” “What’s his name,” I asked. “It’s Abraham.” “Interesting,” I thought but I wasn’t sure what this meant but I knew I had to see this little boy.

After I finished with everything at the University, I asked Seyoum if I could go to the MT orphanage. It took us several trips to several different bus stations to finally find the bus to take us there. We were about to give up then luckily for us the bus driver we found was Seyoum’s relative. Seyoum asked about the MT orphanage and which bus we needed to take to get us there. His relative responded, “My bus goes there specifically. Come with me and I will take you there.”

Within a 15 minute bus ride outside of Mekelle we reached the MT orphanage. I knocked on the gate and was greeted by a very pleasant MT sister from India. I asked about the baby and she wasn’t sure who I was talking about. She said, “Come back this afternoon when the other sisters come back and you can talk to them about it.” “Oh, I have to leave Mekelle this afternoon because I have to be back in Adigrat no later than tonight.” Then she said, “Let me go see if I can find someone to help you.” We walked together across the yard and the place was beautiful. Full of flowers and fruit trees surrounded the courtyard. We turned a corner and I was met with several severely crippled children. One was even crawling on her stomach because her legs and arms didn’t work at all. The little girl about 6 years old was happy to see me and she eagerly crawled closer to me with a big smile wanting to say hello. Around this area were also several women with small babies and obviously extremely poor. Many of them also had handicapped children. Seyoum became extremely sad. Mebratu was also with me and he also was having a hard time seeing these children. After a short time the Indian sister reappeared and she said, “Come, the baby you are inquiring about is in here.” I entered a room. The room was lined with cribs. In the 6 six cribs I saw were three little baby boys. The one I inquired about was the first of the three. He was asleep with a bottle hanging out of his mouth. The second one was awake and the third which looked no more than 4 months was fast asleep. I asked if I could hold the little boy. They prepared some blankets to wrap him up with and the sister handed him to me. What a beautiful little boy this was. He was obviously a mix of Ethiopian and foreigner because he had soft thin black hair rather than curly tight hair. His features were also of a white man instead of an African and the skin was more mocha than black. As I held the little baby he woke. He was very alert when he opened his eyes. He looked at me first not sure what to think then he began to coo and smile. As I visited this little guy Seyoum and Mebratu were talking to the other little boy awake in his crib. Then Seyoum came over and took several pictures of me holding the boy and him smiling at me. I continued to coo with the little baby. I must have sat there for 30 minutes just talking to him and he was laughing and cooing back to me. It looked like he had a cold or something because his lungs had a little rattle in there and his eyes had some mucus in them. Seyoum and Mebratu couldn’t stand it anymore and they had to step outside. Seeing little babies abandoned was breaking their hearts. As I played with little Abraham several other children approached me in the ages of 12 months to about 4 years. They all came to say hi and give me a hug. How sweet they were. After a while they were kissing the little boy and calling me “ama” which is “mama”. It was hard to not cry but also such a gift to sit amongst these babies and give them some love.

The sister asked me how long I was staying. I shared my new position at the University and that I will be here for a while. She became very happy. We discussed the issue of little Abraham and I said, if the mother doesn’t want the little boy to let me know and I will do something to help this child. Then she asked if I would be willing to come and teach the children songs and I gladly accepted the offer when I return back to Ethiopia.

By God’s will I hope to help this little guy. There are more people and families that are extremely desperate in this village that I can’t even count. I get asked by more people to give them money. I help each case as I see fit. Often times it’s just to buy food for a family for the month or get a mobile for a priest or something like that. One of my most recent assistance has been to Sr. Mary’s guard. He is a father of two young children and a wife. He doesn’t make enough money to feed himself and his wife. So I give to help in that respect. I believe I am directed to give to the people I am suppose to give to. This is one of those cases. This little baby has no one right now. The rehabilitation of his mother is still very uncertain. So for me, to help him have some kind of life, this is what I believe I’m being called to do. As I have said in so many benefit lectures I’ve given, Mother Teresa said, “To look to the masses is overwhelming and one cannot help. Look to the one child and help that child.” For this, I’ve said these words more than once I believe it’s not coincidence of this meeting. I believe this little boy made known to me so I can help him.

Gebremedhin Aregawi Friendship and More of Meeting with the Dean

July 12, 2011
The beauty of friendship
Gebremedhin met me at the bus station this morning. He looked very tired. I made him a biscuit with cheese because I wanted to make sure he had food. He often goes without it. I asked him how he was. He said he traveled all night to get back to Adigrat. He said the rains also came in Saessie and the river was too high for him to cross. He had to sleep in a cave and wait for the river to come down before he could cross it. By 1am the river was able to cross and he did. He traveled by foot to get to me on time in the morning to help me. What a friend!!! I hugged him hard as he told me this. I couldn’t believe the loyalty he gave me. I was deeply affected by his devotion to help me and his kind friendship. I shared how sorry I was to hear about his cousin and why didn’t he stay with his family. He told me that he wanted to help me. He knew I wouldn’t feel comfortable going to Mekelle alone.

I was supposed to meet Seyoum in Mekelle but he was busy in an interview and he couldn’t meet me. Gebremedhin stayed with me until Seyoum could come. By this time it was night. I asked Gebremedhin to let me get him a hotel room so he could sleep, take a shower, and let me buy him dinner. That was the least I could do for this sweet man. He agreed to stay and He, Seyoum, and I enjoyed an evening of walking around Mekelle, we ate a delicious dinner, and drank St. George beer until we were stuffed. It was a nice ending to his day. I was really happy to do something nice with him and for him.

July 13, 2011
The next morning Seyoum and I helped Gebremedhin get on his bus to Adigrat. He was called by the University of Tenben to attend his summer classes. I was sad to hear this because there goes another friend. I called him to make sure he made it to Tenben. He had. He took a bus from Adigrat to Tenben and it was an 8 hour ride. He was exhausted and hungry. I asked if I could come to visit and he said, “don’t come to Tenben Celine, it’s full of mosquitoes, malaria, and other diseases. It is a small village and it will not be a good idea for you to come here.” I became disgusted that he was made to go there. I was hoping he could go to Axum or Adwa, where it’s only a 3 hour ride so I could see my good friend and they are safe villages to visit.

Later that morning I went to meet with the Dean. I decided out of respect that I would get dressed up in the traditional Ethiopian clothing. I put on my make-up and Ethiopian closes, earings, and shoes. Seyoum and I headed to the university together. The walk to the bus station was hot. I began to sweat. Damnit I said to myself. If I start sweating then I will sweat for the Dean. We got to the university and I was still sweating. Of course wanting this to stop only made it worse. Now my dress was pitted out and the back of my head was wet. I was annoyed with myself. This is one of those things I do when I get a little nervous and I was a little nervous. Seyoum and I first met with Gizachew and he handed me some curriculum to help him with and a book on black music history that he wanted me to read. I gladly accepted the work and we all headed up the stairs to the Dean’s office.

I sat alone with the Dean and my head dripping with sweat. As I spoke with him about the department and my part in it, my hair dripped with the sweat. I kept answering his questions and wiping the sides of my face. I was so embarrassed about this. I finally apologized because I was so embarrassed but he could have cared less. He was more interested in talking with me than me sweating. I knew this visit was to discuss my salary. The dean was very enthusiastic with my resume and experience but he was also concerned he couldn’t give me enough salary. We talked a while longer. It ended up the salary he offered me was about the same as what I make in the USA now. I told him this was just fine. I then performed for him and he also became impressed with me. He asked if I would consider being the head teacher of the music department. He and Gizachew who was also in the office by this time asked me to go to Yared School of Music at Addis Ababa University and meet with them. They want me to give concerts and lectures at this school too. I was so happy to hear all of this. This is my dream I thought. I’m going to teach music, perform music, and give lectures. As well, from this meeting I learned the curriculum I’m helping with is also going to be used in Nairobi, Kenya, Sudan, and other African countries. They asked if I would be willing to go there and give concerts and lectures as well. I responded with an extremely enthusiastic and happy “Yes, of course I will!!!” Then they told me I need to return home early so I can get my things in order and get back to Ethiopia by mid September at the latest. They will help me with the financials of taking care of my work visa and my travel expenses. As well, they will give me a house to stay in until I can get one of my own.

I returned back from this visit so excited. I accepted the job and now I’m very happy to be here next year. I will do this contract for 2 years. I can’t believe how lucky I am. I need to share all of this with my children. Now I have to see my kids for a short time and then say good-bye. My children are grown but I know this will be very difficult for me to do.

Seyoum and I met up with Soloman Twabe. He was a teacher for St. Lucy School when I first went to the school to teach the flute. He also was one of my flute students and later joined in my solfeggio class I taught too. A very talented young man and it was so nice to see him. We met for coffee and enjoyed visiting for quite some time. I told him I was coming to Mekelle for the next year. He was so happy to hear this. He shared with me that he teaches music at a private school in Mekelle and sings, plays Krar, piano, and bass guitar at a local night club in town. “Oh, how I wish I could stay for the weekend to come and listen to you.” “Celine, our band plays nightly at this club, come tonight at 9pm and see us.” “Okay, I will come.” I said.

Afterwards Seyoum got a call from one of his friends that graduated with him in flute at the Tigray Arts College. He told him I was in town. His friend said I want to meet her. So we met at a café. His name is Mebratu. He is a middle age man with a 12 year-old son, whom it was obvious, he loves very much. He and Seyoum were best friends while they attended the college. He also is a music teacher at a school in Mekelle. When he heard that I was coming to teach at Mekelle University, he asked if he could sign up for flute lessons and I agreed I would love to teach him.

The three of us visited for the remainder of the afternoon. We went to dinner and afterwards headed to the night club where Soloman’s band played. The night club was fantastic. It was in a very traditional style. There were several men that attended the club that were from Southern Ethiopia. They were dressed in their traditional clothing. The clothing was a skirt that was held up by a wide belt. The skirt was white with bright colors embroidered in a trim around the bottom of it. They wore a regular shirt and had a thick white swag also lined in this bright embroidered trim that wrapped from behind the neck to then over the shoulders. It was so cool to look at. They walked with walking sticks. When they danced it was fabulous to watch them. Their movements were amazing to look at. They used their sticks as a form of appreciation of the music. They would sway the stick back and forth over the singer or other person they wanted to show appreciation with. When I got up to dance two of these Ethiopians came to me to dance with me and they swayed their sticks over me. It was so much fun.

Soloman’s band’s name is Katim. This means ring. I’m not sure why they named their band that but whatever they played so well. It was so much fun to hear the traditional Tigray rhythms and dance the Tigray dancing. I just love it. Engaging in their culture makes these trips so fantastic. Seyoum, Mebratu, and I danced all night long. I danced so hard that I was exhausted and hot. We left the night club happy. Walking together arms wrapped into each other and walked the night streets to the hotel.

Meeting with the Dean, Dr. Gebreyesus Teklu

July 12, 2011
Headed back to Mekelle
I received a call from Gizachew to come back to Mekelle so I can meet the Dean. I called Gebremedhin to see if he could help me. He wasn’t in the service area and then his phone was switched off. The sisters were going on retreat and for me to go to Mekelle is the best time. Seyoum is in Mekelle and so I couldn’t ask for his help. I finally got a hold of Gebremedhin.

Gebremedhin was in Saessie. This is where his family is from. His cousin was hit by a car and killed on the 10th. He went to comfort his aunt and spend time with his family. I shared I needed to go to Mekelle and does he know of anyone who can help me. He said he would come back to Adigrat to help me get to Mekelle. I didn’t want him to come because of his business with his family but he insisted.

Later that afternoon the rain came. The storms of Africa are something to see. Sheets upon sheets of rain fall in July. Then hail came. The thunder clouds crashed and banged for hours. Everything became soaked. Water was evening running in our rooms. We had to mop it out and Sr. Mary and I spent the evening cleaning up after the storm. It was a mess.