Each year, members of the Africa United Club at Global Connections High School are living up to the school’s mission statement by being “world citizens who actively contribute to the global community.” This year, the 21 club members (of all different backgrounds and nationalities) were busy collecting books and raising money to help build a library in Botswana. Aside from the charitable work, the club is actively engaged in learning more about African culture and traditions. Rachel Walker, a Learning Specialist and Upward Bound Teacher at Global Connections, requested an excel grant so the group could take an Ethiopian cooking class as a way to learn more about Ethiopian culture.
The main instructor for the class was Genet Weldetensae, with her daughter, Roman Negussie, assisting. Along with leading the cooking procedures for the injera and two different kinds of wat, they provided all the cooking materials and supplies and helped secure the cooking space. The class consists of step-by-step cooking instructions, information about Ethiopian traditions and the opportunity for the students to share a special meal together.
In May, students completed a months-long project that was at times arduous – collecting 1,000 books and $500 for a secondary school in Ghana. This event turned into a celebration of that accomplishment while offering a unique cultural opportunity, and a bonding experience – all rolled into one!
The cooking class provided a great sense of community among Africa United Club members and it gave them space to talk about their own cultures by comparing it to what they were learning about Ethiopian culture through the cooking class.
Students learned about Ethiopian cooking and a discussion about Ethiopian culture led to a broader conversation about many students’ own experiences growing up in other countries. I like to think it validated their own experiences and gave them an opportunity to be heard.
At one point, many cool intercultural things were happening simultaneously: an Indian-American student was teaching an Ethiopian-American student to say greetings and “I love you” in Punjabi, a Somali-American student was explaining that injera wasn’t part of her culture, but describing other things she cooks for her family, and another student was marveling that the smell of the cooking injera was similar to a drink she liked as a child in Kenya. It was a great moment – thanks so much for making it happen!