Waiting. That’s exactly what I was doing last Thursday morning. Only two teachers had shown up to my first training of the semester, so I was waiting and hoping that more would come. As I waited I started to ponder all the time I’ve spent waiting in Ethiopia.
How many hours have I spent here, sitting, and waiting for something to happen? Countless. There were the times like Thursday where I patiently and eagerly waited for participants to show up to a training I so thoughtfully and meticulously planned. Or days I’ve waited for my consistently late students to run through the door ready for English Club. I’ve read entire books while waiting for hours in offices to have meetings with town officials that simply can’t keep an appointment. I’ve spent sweaty and claustrophobic hours trying to shove my way to the front of the line at the bank so I could get enough money out to buy myself food. I’ve sat idly on the side of the road waiting for a car to bring fuel to my unprepared driver. I’ve waited through daylong bus-rides from hell to visit friends.
I think a year and half ago I would have considered all of this time spent waiting as wasted time. It would have been time I could have spent doing something else, something more important or productive. But, as my life in Ethiopia has chugged along, I’ve found that wonderful, albeit, small things can happen while you’re waiting. I explained the concept of my model classroom to a fellow English teacher while waiting for my training to start. I’ve bonded with the few students who do show up on time, reading books to them or learning about their families. I’ve read more books than I ever thought possible while here in Ethiopia. I’ve watched mountains and gorges pass by my bus windows. I’ve spent afternoons socializing and waiting for the coffee to roast.
And then there are all the things that happened not after minutes or hours of waiting, but after weeks and months. People in town learned my name and started to understand that I was not just some foreigner passing through. I gained respect and created friendships with my co-workers at the schools. My landlords became my family. Ethiopia, and more importantly Woreta, became my home. It has all been worth the wait.