The identity crisis in foreign education


Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - Filling out an online horoscope chart, Ruth Mengistu, 23, types in Italy as her place of birth.

This might not have been a surprise if she was actually born in Italy, but she was born in Ethiopia. Her only association with the country is through the school she attended for 13 years; the Italian School in Ethiopia.

For Ruth, identity is an elusive subject, something you can choose, and she identifies with being an Italian. From the language she speaks to the men she dates to the music she listens to, her life is filled with Italy. She cannot deny the fact that in many ways, she cannot relate to “typical Ethiopians.”

All her interest is in being a “global citizen,” which, in her definition, means being closer to Europe. Ethiopian music, history, culture, rituals and customs are forgotten in her head, with only the city of Florence and its scenery vivid and romanticized in her head. Her career of choice, a freelance interpreter, comes from her love of the Italian language.

Starting from the age she started dating, 16, she has never dated an Ethiopian. Even though she says she does not see race in love, her preference seems to coincide with only white people. It is not only an attachment with Italy but the discarding of her home country.

Ruth is not the only one who feels this way; there are many Ethiopians who attended  community, private and international schools who cannot associate with being an Ethiopian. There are so many who stagger when they read Amharic let alone write it, those who only read English, Italian, French literature who believe in the ‘global citizen’ with no association with  Ethiopian identity.

Read more at: The Reporter