Briggs experiences Ethiopia firsthand

By Rachael Renz
October 1, 2009

Shannon Keough

Traveling to a new and unfamiliar country can be intimidating yet exciting at the same time. In Beth Briggs’ case, she discovered a new world – a third world. Not only was her trip filled with new experiences but it was also life changing.

Beth Briggs, senior psychology and sociology major, decided to participate in the Catholic Relief Services undergraduate internship program, which led her to Ethiopia this past summer.

“Dr. Gingerich told me about the internships that CRS offers my freshman year, but you aren’t allowed to partake until your junior year. Each internship is geared toward your interests, so I interned for the food securities department which CRS has been involved with for 51 years,” said Briggs.

Briggs stayed in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, where she lived with her host family, including a mother, father and three younger sisters. While many families live in huts, Briggs’ host family occupied a house.

In the duration of her eight weeks spent in Ethiopia, Briggs was met with challenging obstacles that to overcome, including language barriers and a poverty-stricken culture.

The native language of Ethiopia is Amharric, which is spoken in over 80 different dialects. Most countries have English as a big part of their culture but only the educated people of Ethiopia can speak English.

“I always preached living a modest life and I finally had an opportunity to live it. The daily income for most families is less than a dollar which isn’t much at all since 12 of their dollars is equal to one U.S. dollar,” said Briggs.

Briggs not only experienced the culture but also had assignments for her internship. She had two case studies to complete; the first case study was on small scale irrigation systems and the second was evaluating their government.

“Interning in a third world country like Ethiopia was life changing,” Briggs said. “I think everyone should travel and get outside of their comfort zone; that’s what I did and I learned so much about myself and the world.”

Unfortunately, Catholic Relief Services is discontinuing the undergraduate internship program due to lack of funds. However, if students would like to be involved with international poverty or studies, they can explore the different possibilities at the Wolfington Center on the third floor of Founders.

Rachael Renz

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