Monday, November 21
7:15 pm

THIS IS OUR SECOND YEAR as Peace Corps Volunteers in Ethiopia. This year we are working in the city of Axum in Northern Ethiopia. Axum is a 2000-year-old city and the center of Ethiopia’s Coptic Christian Church. Ethiopia’s brand of Christianity began in Axum in the fourth century and spread to the rest of Ethiopia from this city. We enjoy exploring the ruins nearby; all the hills surrounding the city have various kinds of ruins, many of them unexcavated. We also enjoy finding different kinds of agates, quartz geodes, and other kinds of rocks in the fields and valleys of Axum.

Our work this year is similar to last year, i.e., teaching. We are more experienced this year and so enjoy our teaching and our students even more than last year. We know how to handle the discipline problem better. Pat teaches English to the seventh and eighth grades, and I teach history and geography to the same grades. Last year our eighth grade students scored the highest in the province of Tigre on the general examination given throughout the Empire. We hope for the same result this year; thus, we work the students quite hard.

Last Saturday, November 30, was the biggest feast day of the year for Axum. St. Mary’s Day, called Mariam by the Ethiopians, was celebrated then. So we invited many of our Ethiopian friends to our house for a feast after the ceremony in front of the new St. Mary’s church. We bought a sheep and some chickens and had a great Ethiopian feast. We ate beg wat - sheep meat cut up into a spicy sauce, alicha - meat with garlic, atkilt - potatoes and vegetables without too many spices, and doro tibs - friend chicken. We drank tella, which is the home brew of Ethiopia and some Cognac. All the food is eaten with a sour, unleavened bread call injera that is shaped like a huge pancake. You eat with your hands, using a piece of injera to grab the meat or vegetables. It’s great once you get used to the burning feeling in your mouth, running nose and watering eyes.

Anyway, we have only seven or so months left in Ethiopia and we know already how we will miss the country, the food, and above all the people after we leave.

We want to sincerely thank all of you who sent us books during this past year. The books we received are now in use in Enda Selassie. The students, teachers, and people of the town are very pleased with their library.

We hope your holiday will be happy! See you next year!