Hi all. Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day! What a historic day to find time to write again. Also Happy New Year to all those who celebrated! (I recently learned that the Ethiopian calendar differs greatly from the widely-used Gregorian calendar; currently in Ethiopia it's the year 2010 and the new year occurs in our September).
This year has been off to a good start after being reunited with Liasor, celebrating the holidays with both our families, learning so much at my new job (in November I started a new position in my field of global/international education!), making plans for our focuses and commitments for 2018, and creating a joint family calendar!
Liasor’s Ethiopia Updates:
Liasor had a very successful time in Ethiopia with his research goals. He was granted full access in Sherkole Refugee Camp, so he was able to speak with people from all the different ethnic and religious groups in the camp. In Tongo and Tsore Camps, he was only allowed to speak with Uduk people and no other ethnic groups, but he left with invaluable research regardless. Here are some major results of his research:
Reflections on this MLK Jr. Day:
In recent weeks, I've become increasingly disheartened by the hurtful political rhetoric being tossed around so carelessly. Sometimes we forget the humanity we all share, no matter where we come from or how we look or what issues we support. Sometimes we get threatened when someone else (especially historically under-represented groups) fights for their humanity, as if by doing so it would take away from our own. It doesn’t. I remember today that Martin Luther King was an activist, not always liked or praised. His protests were often not well-received and he was jailed, threatened, and ultimately killed for his platform along with so many others who stood with him. It's easy to look back and praise what he stood for, but forget the slew of resistance and danger he faced and the unpopularity of his message at the time. Many around the world and in this country fight similar battles for their communities, their needs, their humanity, even if viewed as unpopular today. May we always stand for what is right, no matter the climate around us.
Today I remember all those who fought so I could have the opportunities I have today.
Today I’m reminded of how far we’ve come in this country in terms of race-relations, but how far we still need to go! There’s still great work to be done and systems to change, so that will be a life-long pursuit of mine. I’m reflecting on what ways in my everyday life and at work I can be an agent of change for reconciliation and improvement in my community and country.
Today, I’m also thankful for ways to do similar work for our family in Doro, Sherkole, Tongo, and Tsore Refugee Camps and I pray we can come up with useful, sustainable ways of being of support to them.
A few quotes from Martin Luther King Jr. that are on the forefront of my mind today:
“I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits.”
“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”
“Everybody can be great … because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”