Africa! Ethiopia!!

I’ve been immersed in the connection of our kids to the continent of Africa, for the past month or so.

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Of course, they are never not connected to their place of birth, but, in the same way that my own connection to Sri Lanka, the birthplace of my father, has ebbed and flowed in my life, I feel that the connection of my sons to their birthplace had ebbed in the past year, mostly due to our laziness and habits of overwork.

It’s hard to keep connected to Ethiopia when you’re settled comfortably in suburban Maryland.

We used to make more of a point of getting injera at the local Ethiopian market, and making Kik Alicha – split yellow pea stew – on a regular basis.  But, American food often seems an easier choice.  Even though, it’s not really necessarily easier or quicker.

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We made a point of putting on the Ethiopian kids’ music CD, but, recently, jazz and classic rock were more often on our playlist.

And, then, thankfully, our second annual trip to the Heritage & Culture Camp in the Shenandoah hills of Virginia came, and we were able to immerse in Ethiopian music, language, art, and history for a long weekend.  The staff and volunteers who give so generously of themselves for the sake of our kids, who need to understand their connection to their birthplace in order to understand their place in the world, are heroes to us!!  We can’t thank them enough!

Heritage & Culture Camp LogoI love this logo, which speak volumes to me about identity, as a multiracial person, as an American with roots in another land…

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And, part of the learning and growing, for me, recently, happens to be reading the memoir of Marcus Samuelsson, the celebrity chef who appears on a number of my favorite “junk” TV programs – “Chopped” to name one of my personal favorites!  As it happened, my virtual friend, Thien-Kim of From Left To Write wrote a review of Chef Samuelsson’s book, title “Yes, Chef”, and that reminded me, after returning from our trip to Heritage & Culture Camp, that I had already downloaded the book to my Kindle app.  So, I began reading.

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I haven’t finished, but the story, so far, is so touching to me.  I look forward to seeing S, and ultimately J, reading this book.  It tells their story, which I hope will soon include their own journeys back to their place of birth, and meeting the remaining members of their family.

There are other threads here…transracial adoption, multinationalism and multiracial identity.  Who do I identify with?  the country where I live and grew up in? or the country of my birth? or the country of my parents? Oh, and, it just happens that the news has been full of President Obama hosting an African Summit at the White House this week…

How to put it all together?

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2 thoughts on “Africa! Ethiopia!!

  1. ThienKimL says:

    All tough issues. But you're aware and sensitive to them–that all you can do right now. Eventually they'll have to figure out the answers to those questions on their own, but having a family who supports them will help them stand strong.

    1. jkuruppu says:

      isn't that the challenge for all of us, whether multi-racial or not, to negotiate our way through to understanding our identity and place in the world?

      thanks for reminding me to read "Yes, Chef!" I'm loving it (although, on hold briefly, to read the August book club read)

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