Misplaced No More
By Liat Desta
This is home. This country has been more and meant more to me in the past few months than the country that I grew up in for the past 22 years. It has given me a sense of independence, where I’m no longer dependent on my mom, sister and uncle. I’m here, I’m alone… but I’m surviving. This is home.
“This is home.”
I thought I was an adult in college, but really college is more like a four-year camp. There are experiences when you’re facing “the real world”, but you can always run back to your dorm if life gets too hard. In Ethiopia, though, you’re in an unfamiliar country and you have to navigate your way around and hope to God that you’ll make it from point A to point B.
It’s hard not to question who you are in Ethiopia — what you want from life and what kind of difference you want to make. At a time in America when the color of your skin may determine your rights… or your safety, it’s validating to be in a country where your existence as a black person is recognized as something that’s valuable.
How could I not help people who look just like me? How could I not want to help people who I could have easily been? We read the news from the U.S., but it’s so easy to forget about or be removed from race issues when you’re not living it everyday anymore.
What’s happening now is a different type of challenge. I’m in a country where people look like me, but there so many that are disenfranchised and lack the resources that I can easily access. There’s no escaping this problem, no hiding it on my newsfeed, forgetting it or removing myself, because I see it everyday, first hand, everywhere.
This is when the thoughts come up; I feel lucky, but guilty. I feel grateful, but undeserving. Now I am learning to harness these emotions to do everything that I can do to make sure I live responsibly, give back daily, and understand how to use my opportunities. I still am not sure what the future holds for me, but now I can say with certainty that I am determined to create a future that makes a difference in Ethiopia.
“I can say with certainty that I am determined to create a future that makes a difference in Ethiopia.”
I’ve always had a strict plan, an idea of what I wanted to do next in life. I knew I wanted to work in the health field. Lately, I’ve been dreaming of creating and implementing a sex education program in Ethiopia. Yet, my placement at Endurance Youth Association has helped me realize that there are other things that I’m passionate about; there are other career paths that I can take – and that’s okay.
So, I’m still trying to discover what my specific role is as a diaspora who is living in and trying to create a career in Ethiopia. But one thing’s for sure – I’ve never felt so at peace with who I am and where I belong. After twenty-two years of feeling misplaced, I’m finally home.
“I’ve never felt so at peace with who I am and where I belong. After twenty-two years of feeling misplaced, I’m finally home.”