Six students from Impington Village College in Cambridgeshire visited Ethiopia in October, taking the opportunity to meet with students at one of our schools in Bishoftu before exploring some of the incredible sites the country has to offer.
One of these students was particularly impressed by the traditional welcome they received in Bishoftu, writing:
‘Almost twenty-four hours from when we departed from our school we are in the red van on our way to Adea Model Secondary School in Bishoftu. Here we are greeted by a warm community of smiles, the outstretched hands of the school leadership and the many curious eyes of the children.
As per Ethiopian tradition we were welcomed with a coffee ceremony. This is coffee like no other, freshly roasted and ground before our eyes and brewed to deep melodic perfection. Served in small espresso size cups with handfuls of popcorn and traditional bread. This all took place under the shade of a few trees seated in a circle with friendly conversation and a gentle breeze. A time that would have been my favourite part of the trip if the rest of it had not been equally so amazing.’
Meeting the students
The British students were also given the opportunity to help out as their own teachers led English and Math classes for the local children. This was clearly an eye-opening experience, as one student reported back:
‘It was really interesting to see the [Ethiopian] students’ will to learn, it really surprised me. They were always telling us to check if what they had done was right and got really frustrated when they did not get it right. This was really inspiring as I was imagining if the same scenario happened in England, I don’t think the attitude would have been the same.’
It is clear that by the end of the trip both sets of students had made a significant impression on each other, with one British student explaining:
‘When we had devoured our food, it was time to go back to the school and say our goodbyes to the lovely people who had been so welcoming to us all. First we had a meeting to discuss what we enjoyed the most about our time in Ethiopia which included the people, the culture, the students and the absolute lust for life that was portrayed by all in Ethiopia.’
Visiting the country
But they didn’t spend their whole time in Bishoftu, as enjoyable and eye-opening as the school experience was. The second part of the students’ trip involved exploring some of the country’s most famous tourist attractions, including the Awash National Park where they did a Safari. Their tour guide certainly didn’t let them hold back, as one student explained:
‘We started going down some steps, and then I realised what was happening, we were descending to where the crocodiles were. The adrenaline rush and the excitement were almost indescribable, and it only increased when we arrived at the river bank. There they were, six big wild crocodiles, 20 meters away from us … This was one of the best moments of the whole trip, the impression of being so close to deadly, wild predators was unimaginable.’
All of us at Link Ethiopia are incredibly grateful to the students at Impington Village College for their donations to the Ethiopian schools they support and to their teachers for organising this trip. We have no doubt that it had a big impact on the Ethiopian students and hope that the same is true for their British counterparts.