Posts Tagged ‘Houston’

Riding the ripple from Houston to Ethiopia

One of my author friends just called me the Queen of the Ripple Effect.  I’m not sure how I got to be queen, but I like it.  In a couple of days, I’ll be riding the ripple south, riding a wave that–in some ways–started last year when I went to Houston on a visit organized by a parent who adopted a child from Ethiopia and had planted an Ethiopia Reads library in honor of her adopted son. 

Last year, in my blog, I wrote about the weird wonderfulness of that Houston visit and meeting an Ethiopian-American man who (we discovered) was one of my family’s neighbors in Addis Ababa, whose dog used to quarrel with my brother’s dog. 

Pretty amazing.

Memories reaching from Ethiopia to Houston.  Hands reaching from classrooms in Houston to classrooms in Ethiopia.  Kids in Ethiopia (in this school) reading books because of Jack and Debbie and their determination– and because my brother and I learned to read when we were kids in Ethiopia.

Wowee.

Something else happened at that Houston visit.  Bethlehem and her husband heard what I had to say about Ethiopia Reads libraries (www.ethiopiareads.org) and decided they wanted to work with their son to plant a library in honor of their son’s 13th birthday–so that his step into adulthood could become a pledge toward what’s possible to do and change.  Bethlehem set up this week’s visit and invited my brother and me to come speak again.

Trace the ripple back even further.  A few years ago, my bro and I first traveled to Texas (to Dallas, not Houston) at the invitation of Kidmia, an Ethiopian-American group that had organized to make sure that kids growing up in Texas didn’t forget their Ethiopian heritage.  He and I talked about Ethiopia Reads there.  That’s where we first met Bethlehem.

(Okay…Chris and I might get just a little bit goofy when we’re together.)

We’ll be doing a booksigning at the Blue Willow Booksohp on Thursday, Jan. 27, at 5 p.m.

We’ll be doing a signing at B&N Town and country on Friday, January 28, at 7 p.m.

All the Houston events…the signings and the speakings…are one more way of reaching out a hand to kids in Ethiopia who want books. 

I don’t know how much money Bethlehem will raise during the weekend.  I do know that Jack and Debbie started ripples of hope going for the kids in these pictures, and this weekend will nudge that ripple onward to another school, another batch of kids, another batch of dreams.

Ripple on.

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The power of memories…in writing, in life

A family whose four-year-old son was adopted from Ethiopia hosted a visit from me to Houston to speak in two schools and do a presentation about Ethiopia Reads.   Dakota, Lanie’s best friend, is going to an international school in Indonesia–something that popped out of my real life–but I sometimes forget about the international schools right here in the U.S.  It was a kick talking to kids from Saudia Arabia, Argentina, Ghana, Nigeria, India, Indonesia…so many places that I’ve forgotten them all.  When I showed my picture of the camel that appears to be reading a sign taken in Kuwait on an author visit there, my little joke was lost in a flurry of kids buzzing with the excitement of wanting to tell me they could read the Arabic. 

Yesterday, I had my own freaky connection buzz.  After my presentation about Ethiopia Reads, a dad was getting books signed for his daughter, when he commented that the pictures of my dad looked familiar and that he had grown up in the same Addis Ababa neighborhood where I spent years.   He and I tried a few tentative feelers about possible connections–what kind of car did my dad drive?  what did the Ethiopians in the neighborhood call him?–but I wasn’t sure until he said, “Ah…and a dog.  The family had a dog named Chino.”  Chino!  I couldn’t believe it.  I hustled over to my computer and whipped out a picture of my brother with Chino in our house in Addis Ababa and then found a picture of my dad standing beside the family car.  He pointed to where his house was–right beside ours.

Many of the Ethiopians in the audience had been teenagers at the same time I was in Ethiopia, and we agreed it was a treasured time in a treasured place.