I just returned from another fascinating experience teaching in Ethiopia. While I’m not yet over the jet lag (I got back last Friday), I’m also not over the excitement. Ethiopia is a wonderful country with proud people. We have much to learn from them.
The course I taught was an introductory arbitration course. We were invited by our Ethiopian partner, the Ethiopian Arbitration and Conciliation Centre (EACC) to conduct the course. Participants did not pay a fee to attend, but did agree to conduct one free arbitration for the EACC in return for being able to take the course. The participants were both lawyers and non-lawyers (engineers, architects, business-people). While English is not their first language (it’s Amharic), they have had their University education in English so language was not a big issue.
The debates in the course were lively, the group was energetic and the participants’ questions were sophisticated and challenging. Issues such as whether three arbitrators are better than one become a lot more difficult when the discussion centered on which option reduces the likelihood of the arbitrators accepting bribes (the group consensus was that three arbitrators is better because it’s harder to bribe three arbitrators than one).
My teaching colleague (David Haigh) and I conducted mock arbitrations where we left it to the group to analyze the evidence, apply the law, reach a decision and write reasons. The participants took their tasks very seriously and wrote well-reasoned decisions.
I had the good fortune to visit an orphanage and some schools for underprivileged children. We really enjoyed our time with the children who certainly seemed to enjoy our company (and the gifts we brought).
My wife, daughter and I were invited to the house of Dr. Rick Hodes for a wonderful Friday night dinner. Rick is an American-trained doctor who lives in Ethiopia, helping those who most need his help at the Mother Teresa Mission (among other things). He has adopted a number of the children he’s saved and pays for many of the children to go to school. The night we were there, there were about 20 kids at his house for dinner.
The Ethiopian people are extremely kind, considerate, helpful and friendly. They wanted to make sure that we enjoyed our trip, had good food to eat and learned about their culture. I look forward to going back.Allan Stitt :: About Author :: Email