Betesida Zewdie is a third-year psychology student from Ethiopia. After spending 15 years in her home country, she went to Beverly Hills High School for two years. Upon graduation Zewdie came to Goshen College. She is now a Black Student Union leader, a Student Senate Cabinet Member and a part of the Goshen Student Women Association Steering Committee.

Facts about Ethiopia:

The capital city is Addis Ababa.

The official language is Amharic.

The size of the country is 472,000 square miles, about the same size of Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico combined.

Round trip from Chicago to Addis Ababa costs about $1,300.

Ethiopia is the home of more than 77 different ethnic groups who speak their own languages.

Ethiopia is one of the earliest known locations that was inhabited by the human species.

Ethiopia is one of the oldest independent countries in the world and the only country in Africa that was not colonized.

Ethiopia is one of the rare countries where Muslims and Christians coexist peacefully.

What is considered one of the most significant customs or celebrations in Ethiopia?

Easter is really big in Ethiopia. We fast for 55 days instead of the regular 40. The day before Easter, on Friday, people don’t eat the whole day and attend church service from 6 p.m. to 3 a.m. During this time, they pray and learn about what Easter is and why it is celebrated. The gathering looks like a concert because people camp out in front of the church. At 3 in the morning, they sit down with their families and eat a big feast.

What is your favorite food and drink from Ethiopia?

My favorite food is doro wet. It’s a chicken sauce made with the popular Ethiopian pepper, berbere, onions, eggs and chicken. It’s not my favorite because of its taste, but the good memories associated with it—we eat doro wet during every big celebration. My favorite drink is atmeet—a barley and oat-flour based drink that is cooked with water, sugar and Ethiopian butter. My grandma makes it for me every time I’m not feeling well.

What are some of the most popular places to visit in Ethiopia?

Axum is a place that many people visit. It’s the ancient capital of Ethiopia that has statue-looking ruins with religious ties which date back to the first or second century A.D.  Many tourists also visit Bahar Dar, a city of the Tis Isat Fall (Blue Nile Falls)—beautiful waterfalls are located in the northern part of Ethiopia.

What does a typical day look like for you in Ethiopia?

I would usually wake up around 7:00 in the morning and have breakfast with my family. Around 8:00 we would head to school and after classes were over, depending on the day, we would attend taekwondo classes followed by a tutoring session, or do a school sport followed by piano lessons. We would usually go to bed around 10:00 p.m.