News / The Diaspora

Sister cities program brings Ethiopian education to local families

By ANTHONY RIMEL,  Corvallis Gazette-Times   JUNE 2, 2015

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Meleshew Tizazu of Gondar, Ethiopia, writes words in Amharic, the working language of Ethiopia, for a group of children and parents Sunday afternoon. Jesse Skoubo / Gazette-Times

As Meleshew Tizazu wrote the Amharic characters that make up the name of her home country, Ethiopia, she demonstrated how each is pronounced, repeating it and leading the assembled children — born in Ethiopia but adopted into mid-valley families — in repeating the sounds.

In particular, she emphasized the character that makes a sound similar to a “p” making a hard, sharp plosive sound.

Gradually, the children caught on to the Amharic pronunciation of the name, speaking it along with her. They wrote the characters, too, and later wrote their own names in Amharic with the help of Tizazu.

The moment occurred Sunday during a meeting of mid-valley families with adopted children from Ethiopia. They received a lesson from Tizazu, who has been visiting Corvallis for nearly two months as part of the sister cities program. Tizazu is a teacher in Gondar, Ethiopia, one of Corvallis’ sister cities.

Tizazu has been touring local schools, libraries and education classes at Oregon State University.

“I will take some experience from the school systems and universities and will share with my colleagues,” she said.

She said she was very impressed by programs like the library’s infant storytime programs focused on brain development and the Start Making A Reader Today (SMART) reading program for kids in kindergarten through third grade. She said because so few people are educated in Ethiopia, there is not a tradition of reading to kids, nor an appreciation for how that helps them.

“How children are supported here is wonderful,” she said.

She added that she is impressed that in the U.S. when forests are harvested for timber that the areas are replanted, which is not the case in Ethiopia.

“Ethiopia is becoming a desert,” she said.

Read the full story on Corvallis Gazette-Times

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Copyright © 2015 Corvallis Gazette-Times. All rights reserved

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