The University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media has an ongoing mission in Africa. The continent has been the destination for many of the school’s depth reporting trips, and UM professors are working to create policy that will continue peace building efforts there.
They have traveled throughout, written stories and taken photographs of Ethiopia. One of our campaign classes is working with Ethiopian Airlines to increase its presence in the United States, and the company will be offering its employees the opportunity to earn a master’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communications from our school.
Our professors continue to work with Ethiopian leaders on peace building missions, and our students are planning another reporting trip to Ghana.
During a trip to Ethiopia, several UM students were asked where they were from. When they answered “Mississippi,” the inquirers expressed astonishment, wondering how students from such a poor state could make the trip to Ethiopia.
Mississippi and Ethiopia are often branded negatively, but the people of both states are proud and independent, and UM students found the Ethiopians they met to be people of accomplishment.
Through arrangements by UM Assistant Professor Zenebe Beyene, Ph.D., who was once a professor at Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia, UM students have reported on activities in Addis Ababa, Lalibela, Gondar and Bahir Dar.
Addis Ababa is the capital of the nation. Lalibela is a town in northern Ethiopia where there are 11 churches carved out of rock. Gondar is known for the ruins of the Royal Enclosure, from which the emperors once reigned.
The most famous buildings include the castle, palace, a banqueting hall, stables, library and three churches. Near the city is the bath where Epiphany is celebrated.
Bahir Dar is on the southern shore of Lake Tana, the source of the Blue Nile. Our students traveled to the Blue Nile Falls, about 30 km to the south.
Beyene had taught intersession courses at UM on three occasions, and he asked his contacts in each city to coordinate logistics for the reporting teams who arrived Jan. 12 and returned home Jan. 19. He was assistant dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at A.A.U. before he was awarded a Ph.D. at the University of Nebraska.
Beyene told students about being captured during Ethiopia’s war with Eritrea and of serving two years of hard labor as a prisoner of war. His insights about Ethiopia provided a helpful background for UM student reporters.
Ethiopians repeatedly praised the students for their understanding and warmth, and they said the trip had changed their lives. They realized the students had dealt with the challenges of Mississippi’s stereotype and had accomplished a lot with pride—just like the Ethiopians had.