How did I end up in Little Oromiya?

How well can fit in? How well are you trying? Do you even want to?
How well can fit in? How well are you trying? Do you even want to?

While I know classrooms from my time as a professor, I forgot life as a student. Familiarity and nostalgia return with excitement as I enter my new class.

Studying languages comes naturally, but I didn’t do so in a classroom for years. This time I am venturing far from Europe, even the Middle East, ending up in the provinces of Ethiopia. When I saw the East African language, Oromo, in the class catalog, when I had to google the language when I saw it, I was taken. Reigniting my language curiosity with the pilot of obscurity, Oromo sets me on fire.

When I show up, the teacher looks like he is expecting me.

The look surprises me. I introduce myself.

“Ah, Richard,” he confirms. Confirms? I taught hundreds of students but never “confirmed” a student when he arrived to class the first day.
Richard in Little Oromiya

Kiss the babies

Kids can be energetic and unpredictable--why not say "hi"?
Kids can be energetic and unpredictable–why not say “hi”?

The boy points at the baker’s case full of cake and cookies. His mother gazes with deliberate focus behind the counter, which leads the seven-year-old to tap her face in the direction of the sweets. She grimaces as she pushes the hand down.

For the moment her younger children occupy themselves, but she can only count on them not seeing the sweets for so long. In a preemptive act, she buys three muffins, yet her oldest escalates by raising the urgency of his voice and grabbing her face—which now begins to bear a look of defeat. Continue reading “Kiss the babies”