We are more alike than we are different!

June 10, 2019 | Snit, International Development and Globalization(Co-op)(French Immersion), Forumd of Federations, Ethiopia, Intern

My name is Snit and I am a fourth-year student studying International Development and Globalization at the University of Ottawa. I am interning with an International NGO called Forum of Federations as a research intern for three months in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

I have completed one month in Addis so far, and it has been everything I was expecting, but also everything I wasn’t anticipating at the same time. I am a first generation Ethiopian-Canadian, so this isn’t my first time traveling back to Ethiopia. However, this is my longest duration here, and the first time that I’ve ever lived here.

Consequently, I found that I had many assumptions for what my life would be like here, and I have been quite presently surprised. Addis (in my opinion) has been one of the most fast-changing capitals that I’ve ever visited, and it is so interesting to see the impact of globalization on the city. I am going to the gym, hanging out at malls and movie theatres, and also have the chance to explore the outskirts/country side of town, so it is kind of like having the best of both worlds. I have started to find little “Western” places around town which I call “diaspora/foreigner hot spots”, where I go to remind me of home whenever I’m feeling a little home sick. Yesterday I went to a really cute Mexican restaurant, and this week I’m planning on going to a coffee shop that serves iced coffee (I know, it shouldn’t be that exciting to have iced coffee, but in Ethiopia, most coffee shops serve traditional coffee only, so this is a little treat for myself).

Related to what I’m doing here, the project that I am working on is gender mainstreaming in federalism in Ethiopia. Similar to other biases I had, I never really considered all the people working on the ground for gender equality in the country, as oftentimes in class it is posed as almost a “Western” ideology. Yet, I have been pleasantly surprised by the incredible, hardworking, gender experts I have had the privilege of learning from and interacting with. I thought that my life would be drastically different compared to my life in Canada, but everyday I’m finding it more and more similar. I am always reminded that we are more alike than we are different!

For me, this experience is a little different than many other people on their internships because I have been to Ethiopia before, and my parents are Ethiopian citizens. Therefore, I have found that the adjustment has been really unique in the sense that I just assumed it would be easier because I have so many ties to the country, but it really has been a culture shock in many ways! It has been an incredible learning experience so far, and I am excited to see how my experience plays out for the remainder of my time here

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