Constant change at the pace we have been experiencing lately is HARD. I was starting to feel like a bit of normality was resuming as our state was slowing reopening; the protests were subsiding with folks moving onto action plans and next steps. Professionally, we were excited to make it to the short list for a US Embassy Grant to expand our coding-focused STEAM classes in Ethiopia and were working hard on submitting a compelling proposal. Personally, we were happily planning a fun family trip to Greece – Michael’s homeland – where we've been wanting to return for two years.
Then, COVID-19 numbers started surging upwards again in the United States. Europe closed its borders to Americans. Ethiopia suffered a tragic assassination which set off widespread protests, including senseless violence, destruction of property, and significant loss of innocent life. Internet access in Ethiopia was cut off.
I feel like just when I think I have a plan to make it through the next set of hurdles, someone keeps moving the goalposts (this mixed metaphor seems appropriate in these mixed-up days). But what I need to do next remains steady and is the one constant I hang onto for support: I need to ground myself in the reality that we all have very little control over this thing we call "Life." I need to reframe every new challenge as an opportunity to discover what is within my control and what is not. And I must remind myself that each and every time doors and windows close, others always open, if my eyes and mind are willing to see them.
I am now working through this process, which demands intense energy and focus. There are no short cuts. I consciously search for those new doors and windows while simultaneously working to regain my equilibrium in yet another "new normal".
One door I found still open. was the ability to use videos to share experiences and stories. We are growing our YouTube channel with volunteers from all over the world creating content to be enjoyed by kids and adults alike (more on this below). It’s a fun and joyful effort and reminds us how kids see the world.
Another door revealed itself in preparing for the US Embassy proposal, when we realized that to reach our goal of having gender-balanced STEAM classes, we needed more women instructors. With clear focus and well-defined goals, we were able to find talented female instructors to achieve over 50% representation.
A new window opened when a long-time supporter wanted to design and fund projects to support kids with disabilities in Ethiopia. This timely discussion added a new focus to the US Embassy Proposal, as well as highlighted new opportunities to support kids with disabilities with our Ready, Set, Go! bilingual early reader books and our STEM teaching manuals.
Each development that didn’t. or couldn’t go as we planned is a loss – many of them worthy of grieving and processing before moving forward. But when we are ready to see the new doors and windows opening ahead, we can enthusiastically embrace the next leg of a journey that I expect still has a few twists and turns to reveal in this tumultuous year. We are so grateful for our wonderful supporters who continue to believe in our efforts and generously give of their time, talent, and treasure.
You all are the biggest door that continues to remain open, making this work not only possible, but amazingly joyful. Your support is a powerful, positive counter-balance to much of the difficult news that we continue to see and hear. Thank you!