Ethiopian Mutual Community Association

2245 Words9 Pages
…They have a different culture, a different life at home. As soon as they get out there, they are faced with a different world. When they walk across two worlds in one day, it is [very] hard….

When I think about some of the most difficult times in my life – the times that I wish I would have made better, more informed decisions – my adolescent years immediately come to mind. Adolescence is a difficult time, for anyone. Because adolescence is a tumultuous time in the lives of so many, there is a wealth of research covering it. One research team writes, “young people…are in the midst of a process of restructuring social relationships, of finding their place in society, and of making important choices for their future lives.” (Beyers and Cok 2008, 147). However, for the immigrant youth attempting to navigate these processes, the challenges are compounded by the potential for numerous contradictions between the culture of their parents and their homeland, and a variety of cultures that exist within American society. The challenges that these processes present to Ethiopian-American youth are of particular interest to me. Over the course of several weeks, I had the opportunity to get to know Metasebiya “Meti” Mulugeta, the Director of Youth Programs for the Ethiopian Mutual Community Association (ECMA), which operates the Ethiopian Community Center in Seattle. During this time, I learned how the ECMA, in concert with the greater Ethiopian community in Seattle, is creating spaces where its youth can be empowered to succeed, and providing essential services for parents within the Ethiopian community which allow them to successfully make the transition from the homeland to their new home in Seattle.

The Ethiopian Community Center (ECC) is located on Rainier Avenue South on the border of the Dunlap and Rainier Beach neighborhoods of South Seattle. The building – previously the home of a church – is well maintained, but not elegant. The property, including the large parking lot, is fenced and gated and the building’s windows are barred, presumably for security reasons. The interior of the building has a very professional, business-like appearance, while at the same time displaying the identity of its Ethiopian occupants. The walls are painted off-white and adorned with framed poster of varying sizes, displaying maps of Ethiopia and an assortment of historical and cultural facts.
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