Time here in Addis has flown by and I’m coming up on my last week! My life in Ethiopia has proven a rewarding, and at times, a taxing experience. Perhaps I’ll write a personal reflection in a separate post, though I’ll be using this one to briefly share what I’ve been up to the last few weeks.

Week 6
This work turned out to be mostly in-office. I had been tasked with writing a summative report of Innovation Lab, a pilot initiative in which secondary school dropouts reenrolled in school and received concurrent TVET classes. To that end, I spent the week searching for data and reports to gain an understanding of the four year pilot. The week ended with a low-key Friday: Anahita and I hosted two Peace Corps friends and we watched a movie and had brownies.

Week 7
I didn’t have enough data or perspective to write recommendations for expanding Innovation Lab into a formal program, so I asked my colleague to facilitate a trip to Sodo in SNNPR to meet with stakeholders. Originally planning to go Tuesday (and expecting to fly), I arrived to work on Monday and was told we had to leave that afternoon. Also to my surprise, we wouldn’t be flying, but driving.

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Sodo views.

A nine hour drive took us to Sodo and I promptly passed out at the hotel. I met with an implementing partner and beneficiaries the next day and gained a lot of perspective on the program. A quick trip, we made the drive back to Addis on Wednesday and I spent the remainder of the week finishing the report.

Week 8
What a week. We had a work retreat in Arba Minch from Thursday to Sunday. With three days in office, I had a lot to cram. I managed to get in three informational interviews as part of my feasibility study and made progress in writing that report. 

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From the balcony at the hotel in Arba Minch

Over the course of the retreat we had some very productive meetings, discussing Speed School performance over the academic year and government adaption. We also took a few trips around Arba Minch, making a stop at a crocodile ranch. It was wonderful getting a break from the pace of Addis and having time for the outdoors and some leisure.

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Whole lotta crocs.

Week 9
A very busy last full week. I began the week planting trees with my office as part of the Go Green Campaign. A record setting 350 million trees were planted in Ethiopia. I managed to plant 8 seedlings and had an absolute blast–what a special experience.

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Breaking the plastic cover on the first seedling I planted.

Over two other workdays, I conducted focus groups to gain a greater understanding of educational needs and interests of children living on the street. The discussions proved insightful and gave me greater insights for my feasibility study. Writing and going through proofreads of the study took up my remaining time. By Sunday, I managed to finish a 50 page feasibility study on remodeling Speed School for street children. Next week I’ll present my ideas to the team ahead of my flight.

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The site where we planted on Monday.