Assistant teacher discusses Ethiopian upbringing

In a Third World country that ranks as the ninth poorest country in the world, the odds of making it to the United States are low.

   One year after applying for the Diversity Visa Lottery, teacher assistant Geneme Demissie received a congratulation letter that granted him and his family a visa to the United States in 2001.

  Growing up in Ethiopia, there were very few job opportunities.

   During Demissie’s time, the only options of career advancement were the military, business, farming, or teaching.   Because of his value for education, he chose to become a teacher.

  After graduating from the 12th grade, he immediately took a teaching position at an elementary school. However, it was his brother who pushed him to pursue higher education.

  “My brother really supported me. He told me to go to college and really believed that I could do it,” Demissie said.

  Demissie completed a bachelor’s degree in education at Addis Abeba University. He spent one year in Germany for a teaching fellowship and later returned to pursue his master’s degree in social psychology. However, he was unable to finish because he had to take care of his family in Ethiopia.

  Demissie previously taught mathematics and was a high school principal in Ethiopia. He now a teacher assistant in U.S. History l and ll, biology, and applied sciences for the Occupational Course Studies program at Broughton.

  “Discipline is very important for students. Here in the U.S., we have so many resources which people often misuse. I’d tell students to focus in the classroom and exploit the advantages of getting the textbooks, technology, and teachers to help you.” Demisse said.

  Ethiopia is a country that suffers from poverty and hunger. The illiteracy rate is high due to the lack of such resources for schoolchildren. Despite these circumstances, Demisse was able to overcome these odds.

  “The problems in my country really motivated me. At the time, the government was devaluing education and I had to make my kids out of that, to give them the best education. The positive things in life motivate you to keep on working at something at but it’s the negative things that really push you to escape that situation.”