Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Strike makes for an interesting first day at UoG
GONDAR, ETHIOPIA—It was an atypical first day of class for the new semester at the University of Gondar (UoG).

What made my first meeting with my Broadcast Writing students unique wasn’t the students or the setting. The students, all young men, were excellent. They seemed inquisitive, and enthusiastically participated in class activities. The journalism department let us meet in their computer lab, which is equipped with new computers and software. It even has a smart board. The lab isn’t hooked to the internet yet, but they’re working on it.

Today, we talked about the elements of news, and what makes a story newsworthy. Later, I’ll introduce peace journalism, and we’ll discuss how to write broadcast and multimedia news in a professional, non-inflammatory way.

Unfortunately, only about half my students were able to make it to class. Normally, I’d be steamed about this. However, those who couldn’t make it had a pretty good excuse.

Since Monday, all motorized transportation has been suspended in Gondar. This means no taxis, buses, or bajajes, small three-wheeled vehicles. All transportation is shut down as part of a larger anti-government strike in the region that has shuttered businesses and schools. Today is the strike’s last day.

Those who couldn’t make it to my UoG class literally couldn’t make it to my class, since they had no way of getting to campus. I’m anticipating a full house at our next class session on Friday.

My big send off
Before heading up to class this morning (literally, up 216 steps and two large hills/mountains), my Fulbright colleague and friend Tim sent me off with a photo shoot. Now, Tim is nothing if not...thorough. He went online, found my CV, and calculated how many years I’ve either attended school or taught—thus the number 49. I’ll take him at his word, though I suddenly feel a million years old.

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