After graduating last year, Amanda packed her bags and moved to Adaba, a rural town of 15,000 people. The community is comprised of 85 percent Muslims and 14 percent Ethiopian Orthodox Christians.
“Sometimes I tell my friends Adaba is like Clinton, but in Ethiopia, with call-to-prayers instead of church bells. I’m right on the outskirts of the Bale Mountains, home to warthogs, nyalas and bushback (both antelopes), camels and the endangered Ethiopian wolf.”
Amanda is working as a teacher trainer in Ethiopia and has facilitated a 10-week training program for fifth to eighth grade English teachers since being in Ethiopia. She is also coordinating a children’s literature book project with PC alumnae Lacy Feigh, also serving in Ethiopia, and Caroline Todd Whitney.
“We are exchanging information about local nature, food, dress, music, holiday and social issues in order to create stories relevant to specific communities,” Amanda said.
The project will offer Ethiopian students the opportunity to read English stories set in an Ethiopian context. Often when Ethiopian students read English, they read about blonde-haired children, and the stories often include items common in America but not Africa, such as apples. Amanda and the other PC alumnae are attempting to make more global children’s literature for global audiences.
“I’m also doing other ‘Peace Corps’-like things: teaching at a few summer camps, hanging tire swings from acacia trees and drinking coffee with Ethiopian friends whenever I get the chance,” Amanda said.
Amanda says the Peace Corps experience has been rewarding and challenging so far.
“This is an experience where you learn to appreciate beauty in the ugly places,” she said. “That’s something that sounds nice in theory, but when your life becomes the ugly, you learn a lot about yourself.”
After going back home to Irmo, S.C. for a few weeks in May, Amanda realized the past year in Ethiopia has made her more “patient, kind, understanding and loving.”
“I feel like I know what it means to live life ‘from scratch,’” she said. “I’m learning more about existing within a community instead of driving my own prerogative.”
Amanda finds time to read, and she has even started running through the mountains. She cooks everything she eats in Ethiopia and likes to use produce she finds at the market. She has also planted spinach, eggplant, sunflowers and more in her own garden.
“In all of this, PC hasn’t left me,” she said. “When I describe my experience at PC to other Peace Corps Volunteers, they are always amazed at the amount of support I received and personal growth I experienced in college.
Amanda keeps in touch with professors, and a few of them have sent her care packages. Her friends from PC constantly write her letters, read her blog and email her.”
“I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing if I hadn’t become the person PC shaped me to be,” she said.