As I enter the last week of my internship, I have had a chance to reflect on how much I learned during my three months here in Addis Ababa. Like anything in life, there are pros and cons to every experience — below are a few of the challenges and highlights from my time in Ethiopia. If I were to write everything I did and learned during my time here, this blog post would be too long so I am going to use bullet points in an effort to be more concise. I always want to end on a positive note, so I’ll start with the challenges.
- Some days were just really, really boring
- Turns out I hate sitting at a desk for 8+ hours everyday
- Getting stuff done when your co-workers take leave for months at a time can be difficult and frustrating
- Development work is often very bureaucratic and there is never enough money for anything (but I have also learned that, beyond money, persistence and passion are important components for making things happen)
- I think the greatest thing I have gained is simply having been able to see development in action. It was as if everything we read and discussed in class had come to life. It has confirmed that development work is complicated, but also exciting.
- The teachers’ workshop on engaging female students in STEAM subjects was a great highlight of my internship. I was finally able to put my skills into practice and had the chance learn a lot through my interactions with teachers from various countries
- A majority of the work our office does focuses on gender-responsive pedagogy and teacher development, two of my major interests, so it was a joy to work in a place where other people are passionate about it as well
- The people I work with are wonderful and kind
- Addis Ababa is a major hub of development for Africa
- Networking! I had the chance to meet and interact with a lot of important and intelligent educational professionals
- Being given the chance to sit in some very important meetings and conferences with the director even though I am “just an intern”
- I was able to reunite with a few friends from Tanzania!
- Ethiopian food, dancing, and music are a few of my favorite things
- COFFEE (bunna in Amharic). Coffee gets its own bullet point because it is out of this world. Read my favorite story of the origin of coffee here
- Traveling outside of the city always lent itself to beautiful scenery and a nice change of pace
This internship affirmed that education is my passion and the field I hope to work in for the rest of my life. The form that takes may be different from what I have done here, but I hope to always work in the education sector in some capacity.
It has been really important for me to reflect on my internship this way now that it is coming to an end. The day-to-day routine was sometimes tough and it took a long time for me to figure out how I could best contribute to the work they do here, but as I look at my list above, I cannot help but smile as my list of highlights is longer than my list of challenges.
I am certain that I have learned a number of skills here that will help in my future career. Everything — from improving my writing, to planning seminars, to networking — will help me be a better educational professional going forward. I am so ready and excited for whatever is next!