Finally! A Happy Coincidence

10Apr07

I have recently run into a young woman on American University’s quad, and she has offered to help me with my project. She overheard me discussing my project with another AU anthropology student, and she got excited at the word “Ethiopian”. In return, I got excited at her excitement. It turns out that she is a first generation American with Ethiopian parents, and she’s very involved in her Ethiopian heritage through the Ethiopian community, or at least enough to have a number of Ethiopian contacts.

In discussing my project with her, she initially confirmed my hypothesis that Ethiopians come to the DC area for social networking purposes. She described a brief history of Ethiopians essentially flocking to the Adams Morgan area of DC in the 1970s, and stated that people were going there because there were already other Ethiopians there. She described Adams Morgan as though it was overflowing with Ethiopians. But, now Ethiopians are more geographically spread out in the Washington, DC area.

So, after as short discussion involving her opinion strongly reinforcing my assumptions about Ethiopian, it was decided that further discussion must take place. And, not only does she offer her own viewpoint on Ethiopians in DC, but she also knows a number of Ethiopians in DC, who would be willing to discuss these issues with me at her home.

Now, this young woman, who I have deliberately left nameless, given that I have yet to ask her what pseudonym she would like, never personally immigrated from Ethiopia, which adds a different dimension to her perspective than what I have received from immigrants with whom I have already worked. Depending on who she able to convince to assist me in this project, I may have more general perspectives on Ethiopian immigration that simply the Diversity Visa aspect of coming to the DC area. Yet, it has been suggested that the limiting effects of narrowing my focus to the DV has hindered the project, rather than given it the clarity that I originally assumed such a narrow topic would afford. So, this changes my project’s core. I am no longer focusing on particular program, but simply on broader issue of Ethiopians in DC. Considering this, it occurs to me that this does truly simplify the project. Without the DV as a main factor, the role of the state in the project’s scope is significantly reduced. I am no longer trying to juxtapose the very experiential process of immigration from Ethiopia against the strictures of the state mandated system of the Diversity Visa Program. People will possibly have a greater diversity of experiences, less state guidance in their transition, maybe a more informal method of emigration, and greater questions about what the state’s particular role is in the process of emigrating. With the role of the state so greatly reduced in the project, the project is now more prominently about experience, not experienced juxtaposed against something, like the DV. Of course, I still expect to be surprised by people’s experience, which I trust is always much more complex than anything I can assume. And, that brings me back to why I have to discuss more with my new friend, she confirmed all my assumptions! So, clearly, I we have not spoken in depth.

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3 Responses to “Finally! A Happy Coincidence”

  1. 1 Thad Bell

    I’m all sixes and sevens awaititng the next installment! Your writing style has me on the very leading edge of my seat. Do tell!

  2. 2 Jen Turner

    Sven, SEVERAL (like at least 15) Ethiopians are regulars/employees at my work. One of them is even this fantastic painter who is legally not allowed in the country of Belgium for being so good. Someone is bound to want to talk to you about your project! Let me know and I can ask around…

  3. 3 Thad Bell

    An aside to Jen.
    You say your friend cannot travel(legally)to Belgium because he is a fantastic painter? This is very interesting! Art held in abeyance by “Bureaucratic Caprice/Fiat?
    You have piqued my curiosity.
    Mr. Bell


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