Madam Ambassador

10 Nov

Last week I was lucky enough to have dinner with the new American Ambassador to Ethiopia Patricia Haslach. Incredibly down to earth, she had been visiting Gondar to speak at the university and see some of the primary schools in the area (one of which was the former primary school of her staff member and had a relationship with Gondar’s sister city in Corvallis, Oregon).

She travelled as a private citizen, without a large entourage, impressing hotel and restaurant staff all over the city. She stayed with one of my favorite hotels, Lodge du Chateau. Small and intimate rather than overblown and well-known, it was great they have been recognized and recommended to American staff. Seyum the owner was so honored and told us he had called his family in pride. We had dinner at Four Sisters restaurant, all four of whom have great unique personalities and whom I love equally. To see the ambassador come in with only two staff members, great women!, impressed them immensely.

To have dinner with local Peace Corps volunteers, while great for us, really had a bigger impact on the community at large. This is democracy at work—American equality and willingness to get down and dirty with some of the grass-rootiest of workers. And we know Peace Corps volunteers can be some of the dirtiest of the bunch. Willingness to hear about our work, our challenges, and even learn a few Amharic words went beyond our dinner table. It was also lovely to be at a table of all women, high powered and starting out alike.

She even knew my old boss and Dean of the Josef Korbel School, Ambassador Chris Hill. Amazing how small this world is.

So here’s to hoping her term is productive, safe, and continues to deepen relations between these two nations. Welcome Ambassador Haslach.

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