By Anthony Rimel |

Eee tee yo pee ya. Eee tee-yo pi-ya. Eee-tee yo-piya.

Ethiopia.

As Meleshew Tizazu wrote the Amharic characters that make up the name of her home country, Ethiopia, she demonstrated how each is pronounced, repeating it and leading the assembled children — born in Ethiopia but adopted into mid-valley families — in repeating the sounds.

In particular, she emphasized the character that makes a sound similar to a “p” making a hard, sharp plosive sound.

Gradually, the children caught on to the Amharic pronunciation of the name, speaking it along with her. They wrote the characters, too, and later wrote their own names in Amharic with the help of Tizazu.

The moment occurred Sunday during a meeting of mid-valley families with adopted children from Ethiopia. They received a lesson from Tizazu, who has been visiting Corvallis for nearly two months as part of the sister cities program. Tizazu is a teacher in Gondar, Ethiopia, one of Corvallis’ sister cities.

Tizazu has been touring local schools, libraries and education classes at Oregon State University.

“I will take some experience from the school systems and universities and will share with my colleagues,” she said.

She said she was very impressed by programs like the library’s infant storytime programs focused on brain development and the Start Making A Reader Today (SMART) reading program for kids in kindergarten through third grade. She said because so few people are educated in Ethiopia, there is not a tradition of reading to kids, nor an appreciation for how that helps them.

“How children are supported here is wonderful,” she said.

She added that she is impressed that in the U.S. when forests are harvested for timber that the areas are replanted, which is not the case in Ethiopia.

“Ethiopia is becoming a desert,” she said.

Tizazu, who teaches kids transitioning into college, said she plans to start an environmental science club when she returns to Ethiopia. She’d like to take the children to both healthy forests and deforested areas so they can learn about the difference. And she’d like to get the kids involved in planting.

Tizazu has four biological children, the youngest of whom is in high school, and two adopted children, and she also fosters eight children in her home. She said seeing the children adopted into American families was something that she was very interested in because she had heard many stories about Ethiopian children being mistreated by their adoptive families.

“I am very glad to see these people because they are so nice … they treat the children like their natural children,” she said.

Crystal Karnowski, who hosted the event at her Vineyard Mountain area home, said that there is a group of around 15 families with adopted Ethiopian children that meet every other weekend and on Ethiopian holidays. She was two biological children and one daughter adopted from Ethiopia.

“It is extremely important to us as adoptive parents for our kids to see that there are other families like ours and other kids like them, and to give them a chance to celebrate their culture,” she said.

Karnowski said the visit from Tizazu was important because the kids don’t often get to associate with Ethopians, or hear what they sound like and see how they dress. She said the purpose of having the kids write their names in Amharic was to have something to interest them in their birth country.

“It keeps them curious and I’m hoping that it sticks with them,” she said.

Enat Bluhm, a 10-year-old fourth-grader at Lincoln Elementary School, said it was fun to learn about her culture.

“It’s where I’m from so it’s important to me, but I don’t think about it all the time,” she said.

Source: Corvallis Gazette-Times

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