A Week in Ethiopia Was So Much More Than I Imagined

Written by Havana Caso-Dosembet

I am an active global citizen. This may seem like an unusual statement coming from a 17-year-old, but I can explain.

Concern Worldwide staff working with Global Concerns Classroom (GCC) have been a constant presence throughout my time so far in high school. I have spent the last three years closely intertwined with the GCC club at my school, learning for the first time what acronyms like NGO, MDG, MUAC, HDI and GHI stand for. Our clubroom has hosted educational conversations focused on the difference between emergency aid and sustainable aid, and situations in which both are used.

Having those three years of experience gave me the confidence and desire to apply for the 2015 field visit. I wanted to gain hands-on experience beyond the definitions I knew on paper. My perceptions of developing countries and Concern’s work in them had been formed solely through videos on computer screens. I felt that being able to participate in a field visit would further not only my own education, but also that of my peers, by giving me something tangible and relatable to bring back to our club.

During the trip, I realized that, despite feeling well-educated and prepared, my expectations and perceptions were in fact problematic. Mainstream media had conditioned me to think that everyone I encountered in a developing nation would be suffering and in need of aid, which was far from the truth. Ethiopia is a country that is extremely green and vibrant, and very different from my own and others’ stereotypical view of an African landscape. The reality was far from what I had been expecting. So many moments on the trip provoked changes in my thinking patterns and made me more conscious of my own problematic behavior, which I had not thought existed.

I did not expect to be as changed by the trip as I was. Returning home has forced me into situations where I have had to answer questions that previously wouldn’t have vexed me. People ask me about the trip by just referring to Africa as if it is one giant country, and refer to the individuals I encountered as suffering and starving, without realizing that what they are saying is not only insensitive, but also wrong. I now find myself taking on a sort of responsibility to teach those close to me that not everyone who lives on a certain continent or doesn’t have your lifestyle needs your help or wants your life.

This awareness and openness to a new found responsibility makes me the young global citizen I am today. This field visit has shown me that learning from a young age about the world beyond your life, and gaining valuable perspective, is vital in helping to create a more aware, caring and involved younger generation.

Havana Caso-Dosembet is a junior at Trevor Day School in New York City. She’s been an active member of the Global Concerns Classroom (GCC) club at her school for three years now and this summer she was one of two students selected to take part in a GCC field visit to Ethiopia.

45 comments

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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ERIKA SOMLAI
ERIKA SOMLAI2 years ago

thank you for sharing

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Hent catalina - maria

Thank you!

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Paulinha Russell
Paulinha Russell2 years ago

Thanks

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Sue H.
Sue H2 years ago

Bright Blessings to Havana, her parents, Concern Worldwide and GCC!

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Jonathan Harper
Jonathan H2 years ago

noted

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heather g.
heather g2 years ago

Thank you to Havana and for sharing your impressions.

Once you have been to any country in Africa, it gets under your skin, and you simply need to go back to travel and gather more knowledge about different people and how they live their lives.

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Graham P.
Graham P2 years ago

Agree with Marc P. but will make allowances because of her age. Deborah W. I flagged the profile pages of these Spammers and their profiles have been removed so why do they still keep posting? Ask Care 2.

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Nancy Wrightington

Okay care2 ... another great share, thank you!!

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Marc P.
Marc P2 years ago

Dear Havana: I am glad to hear that you are becoming a global citizen. You sound like a very responsible person.
However, when writing to the public I urge you to NOT use sentences like, " I have spent the last three years closely intertwined with the GCC club at my school, learning for the first time what acronyms like NGO, MDG, MUAC, HDI and GHI stand for." and then not explaining what these acronyms mean. Personally, I don't know what the heck you are talking about. That sentence came across as elitist, and when you are trying to educate others about your passion it is not a good thing to alienate your readers 3 lines into your dissertation. I understand that at the age of 17 you probably feel like you have to come across as intellectual to be taken seriously. But remember, when addressing an audience, your listeners don't have the information that you do. (Otherwise why would you be sharing?) To be honest, the only reason I finished the article after that sentence was because you first stated that you are 17. That's how much the sentence I indicated irked me - I normally would not have finished your article. I am glad I DID finish it though. And I am glad you shared your awesome experience with us! If you are truly serious about becoming a global citizen, and want to effectively educate people and make changes I suggest that you take a journalism course and Public Speaking as well. People like you give people like me hope for the future!

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