Upper School Assembly: Africa is More Than One Story

Sue and Hibo

In mid-November, ELL teacher Sue Stein and Hibo Abdi ’16 presented an Upper School assembly program on their journeys to Africa that started in February and June respectively.  Here is a link to Sue’s African Blog.  Here is a link to the slideshow in video format that they played at the assembly.  To challenge assumptions about Africa, they began the assembly with recognizable images from throughout the world and a multiple choice city quiz. Then they captured different views of Africa in images.  If you watch carefully, you might catch a glimpse of Sue dancing.  Following is Hibo’s article about the assembly.

This past year Sue and I had the fortunate opportunity to go to Africa on individual journeys of exploration. We did not know what to expect but we hoped for a new sense of the world around us.

Sue took a leave of absence starting in February and embarked on a journey across Zambia, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Ethiopia, and Kenya for almost four months. Her trip centered around the relationships she had built with the students she has taught at Waynflete for over seventeen years, and while there she lived with families of several current and past families. These connections made and cultivated at Waynflete were the core of her trip and created a deeper sense of understanding for the work she does at school. Without these links between Sue and her students, she would not have been able to enjoy her trip as much as she did.

On the other hand, over the summer, I went to Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya for about three months. Suddenly, all the stories my parents used to tell me came alive. I was surprised to see that the world that had only previously existed in my head actually was true!

Also, my mother took me from house to house all over East Africa and introduced me to family that only knew me as a name. Now that name, which once seemed so far away, was standing in front of them in a matter of seconds. I was glad to finally be able to put names to faces and watch as the relationships grew. I was grateful that my relatives did not treat me as the girl tainted with her American ways but as someone who is part of them. For once in my life, I felt intertwined with people who had the same Somali blood flowing through them.

Once Sue and I both came back to America we knew that our stories were meant to be told. We knew about the prejudices people had about Africa that stemmed from the mass media: starving children, child soldiers, Ebola. This is the painting of Africa many believe as the only truth, but in actuality this continent is filled with baobab trees, rich traditions, and beautiful wildlife. Yes, there might be child soldiers and Ebola, but that is not the only truth. Africa should not be painted with one brush but with multiple brushes in unison for it is a place of different peoples, languages and cultures.