Hoping to be a True Brother in Ethiopia

Fellows trip

A luggage airport tag from Global Fellows trip to Ethiopia. Photo by Debbie DeVoe/CRS

Thomas Pierzchanowski is one of eight seminarians from Mundelein Seminary traveling with CRS Ethiopia as part of the Global Fellows program. Here he shares his thoughts as he flew to Addis Ababa to start the trip on February 18, 2010.

We are still on the airplane traveling from the United States to Ethiopia. Just yesterday and the day before we were in Baltimore attending an orientation at CRS headquarters. Everyone is very excited about our trip.

Our orientation covered many topics, for example, matters of health and safety. It was also a great opportunity to learn more about CRS and its projects. Through these programs, CRS helps not only all the direct beneficiaries but also all of us Catholics in the United States by helping us to live out our faith and call to solidarity with our brothers and sisters overseas.

While the Operation Rice Bowl is perhaps the most widely known CRS program, there are many others. The two that caught my attention were the Food Fast and Fair Trade programs. I encourage everyone to learn more about them through the CRS website.

I am very excited about this trip. Most Americans do not have the opportunity to travel to Africa, so this trip to Ethiopia is very likely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me. But I am also somewhat nervous. I see solidarity as our response to Christ’s call to love our neighbors, and I wonder how our group will be received by the people of Ethiopia.

The Ethiopian gentleman sitting next to me during our flight is very kind and open to me. He told me some interesting things about his country. One thing I learned is that Amharic, the language of Ethiopia, borrowed some words from Italian. For example, the word piazza is used to refer to a town’s downtown area.

The kindness and openness of Daniel, my Ethiopian fellow passenger, increases my comfort that our trip will be a great transforming experience. Lord, please help me to be open to all of the people I will meet during my CRS trip to Ethiopia and do not allow my longing for the comforts of home to stand in the way. Please help me to see all the people we will meet as my true brothers and sisters. Please help me not to be a tourist but rather a true brother to them. And Lord I hope that they will see me as a brother as well.

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