Teff Is The New Corn by Katie Rancourt

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After a late arrival and long drive, we were finally in Dessie. Since it was a long night, we were able to sleep in and some of our favorite Ethiopians, our drivers of course, picked us up around 10 am. Just a short drive and we came upon Wollo University, beautifully tucked away in the mountains. The minute we arrived, we were definitely the celebrities on campus. Everywhere we turned students stared and talked about us, while all of us were dying to know what they were saying. Our first stop on campus was the President of Wollo University’s office where introductions were made as well as gifts exchanged between us and the Wollo University students that will be assisting us this week with our research.

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Meeting and giving gifts to the students of Wollo University in the President’s office.

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Main entrance to Wollo University

Once introductions were made Mary and Jon got a chance to work out the logistics of what days we will be working with the university while the students gave us a campus tour. They led us around to the cafeteria, library, dorms, agriculture building, and nutrition and health science building, where they spend most of their time in class. After getting to spend time with the students and seeing their campus, we headed back to the hotel where we ate some lunch and prepared for our next activity.

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Touring the campus of Wollo University

We jumped back in the car and were off to Wollo University again where we got a little taste of farming and what the agriculture students have to tend to each day, their crops. Small plots of garlic, onions, beans, potatoes, wheat, beet root, and teff occupied two separate fields on campus and the students and faculty members walked us through the different crops. Teff is a native grass of Ethiopia used to make injera, which is a staple food here. We even learned about a traditional Ethiopian home remedy for fungal infections and dandruff that comes from grinding up a plant called astenagir, into a paste and rubbing it onto the scalp. Brianna even started making her own!

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Learning about the crops from faculty members and students.

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Princess Devon hoeing a plot of onions.

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Brianna making a traditional Ethiopian home remedy.

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Pang, Yirga, Brianna and I resting in the field. 

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Some of the crops with the campus in the background

We continued on after Wollo University to a busy market area in the city of Dessie. Before any shopping could be done, we first had to stop and get some freshly squeezed juice, the majority of the group ordered the pineapple, banana, and mango combo, and it did not disappoint. We headed out of the juice shop and down to the market, which overall, turned out to be a bit overwhelming. We stuck out like sore thumbs but our fearless leader, Yirga, led our group. The locals of Dessie were fascinated by us and watched closely as we walked through the different shops. A couple of shiro pots (a special pot to hold a traditional Ethiopian dish) as well as coffee pots were purchased from the market and it was time to make our way back to the hotel.

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Taryn, Tau’ Toya and I in the crop field

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Taryn, Tau’ Toya, and Olivia

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The whole group plus Jon Kerrigan and the Ethiopian students!

We decided the best way to end our busy day was with Ethiopian beer and their tasty bar snack, kolo. Then we headed up to bed to get ready for an early morning at the sheep farm!

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