Story by Donyea’ Jones. Photo from Collegebound.org.
NOV. 2016: Last year 2015, on November 24th around Thanksgiving I went to Ethiopia for an “International Study Tour” with other DC students in the College Bound program.
When I first found out about the trip, I was scared and questioned everything because at the time there was the Ebola outbreak. Since I knew people who lived in and are from Ethiopia, like my grandma, they told me Ebola wasn’t in Ethiopia. When I heard that news, I felt safe and excited about going on this trip.
To be more prepared for this trip, the director of College Bound, Mr.Ward told me to bring my own bottled water because the water in Ethiopia wasn’t the greatest, nor was it clean. Also, I had to go shopping to prepare for the extremely hot weather that I’m not used too. I was even more excited because I got to purchase little shirts, shorts and sandals that I love to wear in the summer time.
The only thing I wasn’t excited about was the fact that my mom and stepdad had to come out of pocket. They both had to put up money for my plane ticket and other expenses. My mom and stepdad spent over twenty-four thousand dollars for the trip, But they both stated,“It’s for a good cause.”
The day finally came and I was very nervous and excited. I flew on Delta and Emirates airlines in first class. My first flight was to Dubai, which was amazing. Dubai has the biggest mall in the world, with every store and all the lovely name brands you can think of. I fell in love when I stepped foot in the mall. I thought for a second, but then forgot that I had a budget plan so I could maintain and spend my money the correct way. My budget for shopping on the trip was two thousand dollars. I went to two of my favorite stores—Lush and Coach.
After all the shopping the students and I did, it was time to get on our next flight which took us straight to Ethiopia. The plane ride was 14 hours in total. Ugh, you can only imagine. Thanks to my mom and stepdad that paid for first class, I felt like I was at home.
After we arrived in Ethiopia, all the students and I went straight to the money exchange place. When I exchanged my money over to Ethiopia money, I had over seven thousand dollars—which is a lot of CASHH MONEY!
During the day, we stayed in the city called Addis Ababa. The sun was shining and it was 20 degrees celsius which is extremely burnin’ hot and back in Washington DC, it was freezing. I had to get used to the hot weather because we were spending Thanksgiving there plus another whole week.
The best part of the trip was trying new foods that I wasn’t used to and never had before. The best part of the trip was meeting my great grandparents for the first time who were tour guides. They took us to a lot of villages and primary and secondary schools to donate school supplies to the students. After visiting all the different schools, I felt grateful for the things I have because I noticed people there didn't have the type of resources that I have back home.
It's sad how Africa is portrayed in the media in a negative way but as soon as I laid eyes on the kids and their families I began to have to chills. I felt the sadness and the happiness from every single one of them. When the trip started to come to an end, I felt good about myself because of the good deeds I did and the people I met. I gave away school supplies, clothes, and personal items. I also read to children and had to opportunity to teach a lesson to a group of amazing kids. With this being said, children of color should value their education and take it seriously.
Donyea’ Jones is a senior at Friendship Collegiate Academy.