Friday, August 3, 2012

FROM ETHIOPIA: "Youth are much more willing to engage in risky behaviors to become successful."

After completing another adventurous week in Addis, it is hard to believe we are almost half way through our Project Prepare curriculum. Although each module presents a new topic, idea, and conversation, the sessions are becoming more and more comfortable and dynamic. Something that has become increasingly apparent and that Project Prepare distinctly takes into consideration is the need for each module and the overall curriculum to be culturally sensitive. Throughout our time in Ethiopia and speaking to the wonderfully hospitable and kind people here, it is clear that their cultural morals and values are of the utmost importance. Furthermore, whether in a day care program or orphanage facility, each child is raised with exceptional manners, compassion, and generosity.  It is also clear culture plays a very important role for each child, and whether it is incorporating the traditional food, injera, or dance into the curriculum, the youth respond much more positively to activities and scenarios they can relate to. Additionally, it is evident that education is highly regarded and each child wants to succeed. However, something that has also become increasingly apparent is that these youth are much more willing to engage in somewhat more risky behavior to become successful.

In one of our module’s focusing on how to get a job, one of the groups disagreed with a hypothetical scenario about whether to accept a risky job abroad. The discussion took an interesting turn as half of the group felt the girl should travel overseas to find a job, and the other half felt she would be better off finding work in her village. In this sense, taking the cultural morals and values of the youth participants into consideration becomes very important. For many of these youth, life in their village or life after care does not offer many opportunities for success, a good job, or any other appealing prospects. Therefore, when a chance to leave their home arises, however uncertain or tentative it may be, many of the youth will eagerly accept this opportunity for the hope of a better life. Since this is a very real and most likely common scenario, it is important to inform the youth of the risks and dangers associated with work abroad and how to protect themselves from some of these hazards. Instead of teaching the youth that all work abroad is dangerous and should be avoided, since we know that many of the youth will view these ambiguous jobs as opportunities for a better life, the curriculum focuses on how to ensure their safety and knowing where to go and how to get help abroad. In this way, the curriculum is more specifically tailored to the opportunities presented and challenges faced by the youth. Without this cultural sensitivity and understanding of the lives and daily challenges faced by many of these youth, such a program would not be as effective. Just as the youth are learning from our curriculum, we have also been learning from them and their cultural values, morals, and beliefs.
Amharic Word of the Week:
Culture = ባህል

Amy Gilbert
IOFA Program Development/Legal Intern

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