Kate Siebert - General Teaching Projects in Ethiopia
My experience with Projects Abroad began when I realised that I had three months of holiday, between my completion of school and the beginning of university. I decided that within these three months I wanted to do something beneficial that I would remember forever. In April of 2013, my mum came home telling me that someone recommended Projects Abroad.
I’d always wanted to travel to Africa, Ethiopia in particular, after having watched numerous documentaries about the famine and poverty there. Once we found out the specifics of the trip, I applied for a Teaching placement in Ethiopia for a period of three months, but it was soon changed to ten weeks due to university interviews. The trip would be my 18th birthday present from my family.
Immediately I was both excited and apprehensive for my departure, although I had to get through secondary school first. I attended St. Michaels Grammar School in St. Kilda, Melbourne, and am now a current Bachelor of Environments student at the University of Melbourne - the offer for which arrived when I was in Ethiopia. My final year flew by extremely fast and before I knew it I had a huge list of things to do before I left. In June of last year I had numerous vaccinations and after my exams I did many shopping trips to get everything organised.
Volunteering in Ethiopia
As soon as I arrived in Addis Ababa International Airport I felt the immediate support from Projects Abroad; seeing Weini, staff member, standing at the gate with a Projects Abroad sign was a huge relief! The first two weeks of my trip were a real mix of emotions, but with Projects Abroad, my host family and my fellow volunteers I soon felt right at home in Ethiopia.
My Teaching placement began after doing an orientation day with the former director in Ethiopia, Sami. I was teaching English at Hill Side School to grades one and two, children aged six to eight. With no previous teaching experience or qualifications I found it difficult at first, but soon I couldn’t wait to teach them. All of the teachers there were very friendly and all had a great level of English, and seemed to love their jobs.
Over my 10 weeks, I travelled to the East and the South of Ethiopia with other volunteers, all of whom improved my experience immensely. The trips enabled me to see some of the countryside, where sometimes the living conditions were quite shocking, but the kindness of the locals never ceased to amaze me.
I also spent a week at the Salem Children’s Village, an orphanage associated with Projects Abroad, where I met some beautiful, amazingly talented children. Everywhere I went I met inspirational and kind people, whether it was families living without clean water or electricity, or friendly taxi drivers and locals on the streets of Addis Ababa. Everyone at the school, the orphanage and in my host family did their best to improve the lives of the kids and give them the best possible future, which I was extremely impressed with.
My Host Family
During my placement I stayed with an amazing woman called Aster Dergu, and her family which included her husband, three children, sister and nephew. They were all extremely friendly and welcoming and I could communicate excellently with them. It gave me a great opportunity to learn a lot more about the Ethiopian lifestyle and culture, as well as share some of my Australian customs.
I was lucky enough to be in Ethiopia over their Christmas celebrations on January 7th where I joined them for a traditional meal and coffee ceremony. I feel honoured to call them my second family and cannot wait to return to Ethiopia in the future.
I would recommend volunteer work to anyone, because it has enriched my life, and I think I have enriched the lives of others and this is all thanks to Projects Abroad.