A Tale of Two Homes
I remember my reaction when I was 13 and my parents first told my brothers and I that we were going to be in Ethiopia for the summer. What business did we have in Ethiopia? Ethiopia wasn’t my home, it was theirs. Going to Ethiopia didn’t make sense to me- after all, isn’t this the country they fled from? It didn’t seem very appealing to go to a developing country that the media portrays as being plagued with famine, poverty, and AIDS especially when the alternative was summer break. I had no idea that Ethiopia would end up being the place where I would want to spend the rest of my life.
Although I was born and raised in beautiful San Diego, I’ve always felt a little out of place. I felt like a visitor in my own city. Whether it was at school, the mall, or basically any public place, I never felt a hundred percent comfortable. Not only was my race different from most people we were around, but my ethnicity was also unique. Personally, I didn’t truly understand where I came from so I couldn’t understand where I was going – let alone who I was.
My first trip to Ethiopia stirred a fire in me, it gave me perspective and a better understanding of myself. For the first time, for whatever reason – this far and distant country felt like home. I belonged. It allowed me to understand my family, and the reasons behind the things that they did. This land of milk and honey helped me understand who I was which then helped direct me to who I want to be. At 13 – Ethiopia opened my eyes. Ethiopia opened my mind. Ethiopia gave me clarity.
“My first trip to Ethiopia stirred a fire in me, it gave me perspective and a better understanding of myself… It allowed me to understand my family, and the reasons behind the things that they did.”
Something happens inside of you when you can walk down the street and get lost in a sea of faces just like your own. Although I was born in the States, I’m not fluent in the language and have only spent a combined 6 months of my life in Ethiopia, I feel at peace when I’m here. This is the land my parents were born, where my grandparents were born, where I started.
“Something happens inside of you when you can walk down the street and get lost in a sea of faces just like your own.”
Fast-forward almost 10 years and here I am, walking the streets of Addis, backpack on, headphones in, soaking in the warm Ethiopian sun (then minutes later soaking in the cold Ethiopian rain). I didn’t have a hard transition when I arrived last month, it felt like I had never left. No matter how long you’ve been away, home welcomes in with its arms open wide. Yes, I pass by inquisitive faces and long stares because of American fashion sense (earrings and my dreads up in a bun), but t I love it here and have loved it ever since my parents dragged me here almost a decade earlier. The people, the culture, the history, it’s all mine. I take the good and the bad of Ethiopia and fully embrace it because this country is my home.