How Could I
How does the built environment affect me in relation to Ethiopia? Well... the environment within which I connect to Ethiopia and Ethiopia connects to me is the internet. A lens, a social structure, a series of tubes; every environment affects the way it's inhabitants view everything. In my room I can touch, see, taste, smell: everything. It's personal, so personal because aside from occasional visitors (the cats, my dad, ect.) I am aware only of my being within my room. My room exists only in the way it relates to me. I cannot grasp the way it exists for the cats, or my father, or the spiders whose webs hang around in the corners of the ceiling. I can only understand my own space, the environment of which I am most familiar, through my experience of it; I can only understand Ethiopia through my experience of it. I can't remember the first time I considered that Ethiopia exists. Maybe in seventh grade it fell into my head along with some other places I am thoroughly ignorant of. I know for sure that since then it has evaded my consciousness until now. I have never touched, smelled, tasted or seen Ethiopia, and it has never sensed me. It is a being within my understanding, but it is little to me. And I for that matter and am even less to it. A book, a picture, allows Ethiopia to grow for me, to seep a bigger stain into my mind. But I cannot push back through the picture or words and know that Ethiopia is aware of me. It is easy to ignore something, someone, that does not know it is being rejected. I can continue my anonymity. Fifty years ago it would have been much easier to influence my life so that Ethiopia would never acknowledge me. There would have been much less opportunity for me to communicate with people outside of my own American culture. But today I could go on facebook and friend an Ethiopian person. THE INTERNET MADE ME DO IT.
All that emo stuff aside, i really do believe that while the research project could meet every requirement and even go beyond the requirements without ever meeting a person from Ethiopia, i feel that i could benefit personally from such an encounter, and perhaps gain some experience from the individual so i could approach the mdg at an angle that is more respectful and insightful to the real issues Ethiopia has to deal with. My service learning is at a program called EFTIN. it is an after school tutoring program for students from Somalia. I chose the organization because i thought i would gain more from participating in something outside of my own culture. and i was right. the last time i volunteered i was able to talk first hand with the coordinator who is from somalia. he explained some of the political upheaval in ethiopia and the surrounding countries and even offered the suggestion of a book that would give a scholarly and fairly recent account. basically i am just glad that my wish to actuallly speak face to face with someone who is so much closer to Ethiopia than I am came true. the end.