The Power of One Writer
Back Yards, Ethiopia and Children's Books

Ethiopia Indonesia world and word travelers

I love international schools!  They are such places to explore…


friends from all continents


the power of words.

Often the classes are small.  Always, the classes are full of kids who were born in lots of different places, all bringing their knowledge and ideas and traditions and family connections and passions into one little space.

I tell kids that I went traveling from the United States to Ethiopia when I was only two years old.  I ask how many of them changed continents when they were too young to remember; half or more raise their hands.  We talk about the new things we found on new continents.  We talk about those feelings…what we’ve loved about traveling and what we find confusing.  I tell them that my writing gave me a way to talk about my home in Ethiopia that I never had until I started publishing books…and that maybe their writing will give them that kind of power.

Here in Indonesia, the students and teachers and I have found lots of things in common.

Rainy season in Ethiopia…

and rain whooshing down in Jakarta.  Here’s the view as I looked out the window of the hotel after I got back from the school one afternoon.


Feelings of picking up and letting go of the things you know.  Feelings of finding new things to hang onto, sometimes by one’s fingernails.

The library at JIS-PIE has the hands-down most gorgeous view (out its window) of any school I’ve been in.  Thinking about the snow I left behind in Kansas, I felt full of thrilldom every time I walked into the library.

The other JIS campus has an enormous tree right in the middle of the courtyard.  I sat on a bench during my break and filled myself up with the sight of it.

But I even loved the insides of the rooms because that’s where the kids and teachers and librarians were.  I did meet some passionate kids during these two weeks.  One boy told me that his ancestors on one side were in Kenya for 563 years and the other side of his family comes from the Netherlands and he’s lived in both of those places and also in Spain and South Africa.  World travelers, unite–and tell your tales.

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