Ethiopia Education Initiatives, New York, NY
The Ethiopia Education Initiatives was founded to provide world-class educational opportunities to students of promise in Ethiopia. The organization’s first project is the Haile-Manas Academy (HMA). HMA opened to its first class of 9th graders in January 2021 and is a co-educational secondary boarding school for students recruited from across the country. The Academy nurtures independent thinkers, and enterprising young citizens who will have a significant impact on their communities. HMA models innovative, student-centered approaches to teaching and learning and programs are self-reflective and data driven, so that they can systematically share results with others.
As someone with a deep connection to Ethiopia and a passion for service, I found my work for Haile-Manas Academy extremely meaningful. As the Educational Research Intern, I researched the unique point the country occupies in the history of Ethiopia, particularly the impact of the creation of ethno-linguistic regions and interviewed many of the wonderful students, faculty and board members to compose documents which demonstrate the promise of the Academy.
One of my favorite projects I worked on asked students to explore their definition of education and their experience at HMA. Their answers helped me craft a creative piece that represents their growth as students and communicates the Acadmey’s missions and goals to different stakeholders and education professionals. I also conducted research used to develop a few job descriptions and then communicated the vision for the Teacher in Residence Program to interested stakeholders, including other African institutions. Additionally, I suggested funding, partnerships and places in the United States for the Head of School to find a sustainable source of qualified applicants and support for the program.
I loved seeing what it takes for a project to move from conceptualization to implementation and longevity. Becoming familiar with exactly how instrumental an initiative like HMA is in helping the students clear their path in higher education, after a historic depression in domestic Ethiopian education, has inspired me to continue working to bring community specific projects to those often left tangled in long, complex (and sometimes volatile) histories. The motivations expressed by the faculty and board showed how powerful an individual dream can be when met with an equitable institution and a committed team.
I know my professional career will forever be inspired by the authentic leadership and culturally sensitive approach to social impact demonstrated at HMA. This summer has left me better assured that social change and international outreach does not have to be plagued by structures of Western superiority and effective responses to a rapidly globalizing world can be successfully tailored to the specific needs of a given community and be informed by the people who will implement and live with them.
I would like to thank the Class of 1972 Internship, as well as the ’68 Center for Career Exploration, for their generosity. I am truly grateful to have had the opportunity to work in service of a community I care deeply about.