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Ethiopian Camp 2018
August 2-5

We are committed to keeping kids connected to their heritage so that they are well rounded individuals with a positive self image and a greater sense of community with their peers. In addition, we are committed to creating support groups in bringing together parents of Ethiopian children to share their great common goal of raising self-assured and well-adjusted Ethiopian-Americans. To that end, we organize and sponsor various cultural events, heritage camps, homeland visits.

AbshiroKids - Connecting Our Kids
Ethiopian Kids Educational Resources
Alphabets, Music, Stories, Animation and much more!


"What We Live For"


IN THE GRAY A Workshop is a two part workshop designed to explore and discuss the issues of dual identity as it relates to the Ethiopian-American experience. The first part of the workshop held for the parents of the Camp participants will share excerpts of Antu's one woman show IN THE GRAY. IN THE GRAY is being featured in this year’s United Solo Theatre Festival on TheatreRow in New York. The piece was written as an exploration of Antu's experience of being an Ethiopian born American raised woman, artist, mother and daughter, balancing identity, self expression and self ownership along the way. It delves into what it means to be an outsider from deep within. Post excerpts in the parent and teen workshop, participants will have the opportunity to interact with Antu in a conversation about the points that resonated with them personally in the pieces as well as be invited to share in dialogue about current experiences that they are facing.

The second part of IN THE GRAY A Workshop is designed for kids. This piece will be a group scene writing/mini play workshop that will introduce participants to the fundamentals of acting and playwriting. The class will start with a few theater games to warm up, and then Antu will lead the group in creating a scene with an identity based theme relevant to the group. She will offer suggestions as well as ask the participants which idea they would most like to expand on in the scene. Once the plot is established, they will all work together to create a scene, stage it and watch it come to life.

ANTU YACOB was born in Dire Dawa, Ethiopia and raised in San Francisco,CA and St.Paul,MN. She is a graduate of Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University's Masters in Fine Arts in Acting program. Her plays have been produced by the Kampala International Theatre Festival in Uganda, Theatre167 and Project Y Theatre companies in New York. Her work has been featured in the NOWAfrica Playwrights Fest at NYU-Tisch School of the Arts, Fresh Ground Pepper's Playwrights Playgroup, Crossroads Theatre's CommonGround Festival and CoLABArts theOrphanage Series. Her acting credits include work with Primary Stages, Goodman Theatre, Philadelphia Theatre Company, Cincinnati Playhouse, Crossroads Theatre Company, Mixed Blood Theatre, Pangea World Theatre and Pillsbury House Theater. Her film and television credits include Law & Order:SVU, Conjure, Eminent Domain, Walking in Circles and Precious Cargo. She can also be seen in the upcoming Netflix series Gypsy. Antu's one woman show In The Gray will be featured in this year's United Solo Theatre Festival. She is Founder of Shaggae's Song Performing Arts Collective, a nonprofit organization that develops work focused on international women's issues as well as provides performing arts education to students' grades 4-12. Antu teaches Acting at Rutgers University.


Despite our best efforts as caring and enlightened parents, occasionally, and perhaps more often, our kids experience unpleasant situations that other children around them do not. In the case of our children, these situations can come about due to several factors that come into play all at once - cross-cultural adoption, being part of a multi-racial family, being born in another country, having immigrant parents, being raised by a single parent. Our children could be, in one way or another, vulnerable to subtle discrimination or even outright bigotry.

NO SURPRISE. Life is NOT fair, nor does it always go the way we want our children to experience it.

As parents, we have the duty and responsibility to teach and prepare our children to face the world and manage situations to find their own success in life. Understood - success is defined in as many ways as there are individuals in this world. No matter how it is measured or defined, we as parents will always have the highest responsibility to shape their character, help build their resiliency and prepare them to manage difficulties that the world throws their way.

Parents have two primary ways that they can teach and inculcate behaviors that lead to success for our children. First and what most people identify is providing direct action - good schooling, active spiritual and moral life, and setting high expectations, etc. As important as these direct-action methods are, another critical, but under-appreciated way we influence children is by modeling behavior for our children. How do we as parents, and role models handle unfair, discriminatory situations or setbacks? Do we handle them with dignity, strength and patience? Or do we fly off the handle or react impulsively. THINK ABOUT THE LAST TME A DRIVER CUT YOU OFF ON THE ROAD. HOW DID YOU HANDLE IT? Our kids are always watching...

Our presenters will draw upon their personal life experiences and invite parents to consider new concepts and obtain additional tools to help their/our kids navigate this sometimes-difficult world we live in.


A middle child of three boys, Marcus was born in Oklahoma City, OK to a schoolteacher and self-employed paint contractor. His mother came from a small town in Okfuskee County, Oklahoma, known for its all black communities settled by pioneering freed slaves. His father's family came from a segregated community known as “The Elbow” in Guthrie, Oklahoma. Through childhood Marcus learned lessons from his mother and father regarding education, professional work, old-fashioned labor and the sometimes-complicated world of identity. It was these lessons along with the culture of the Oklahoma Bible-Belt and the remnants of segregation, which influenced and shaped Marcus through young adulthood.

Marcus completed his post high-school education at Oklahoma State University. He was able to join the university's new Minority Engineering Program, which offered co-residing opportunities with other students from underrepresented populations. Marcus credits this program with setting him up for initial success in what was ultimately a very challenging college journey. Through this journey Marcus earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering and met his best friend and love of his life, Martina. The same year of graduation Marcus and Martina were married and Marcus began his professional career as an engineer for the Department of Defense. In the 21 years since, Marcus and Martina have shared an adventure of identity development, learning, growing, grief, celebration, and reflection as an interracial couple.

Marcus and Martina currently reside in O'Fallon IL where Marcus continues his service with the DoD and Martina works for the Department of Veterans Affairs as a psychologist. In late 2010 Marcus and Martina grew their family and welcomed home Mihret and Tsion who were then 5 and 3 years old. Mihret is now preparing to enter sixth grade while Tsion will be going into the fourth. It is in this latest chapter as a partner parent where Marcus has found new challenges, new opportunities for growth, and a deeper sense of respect for his own personal and ethnic history.

In his leisure time Marcus enjoys movies, family activities, the outdoors and amateur astronomy.


As parents, we do our best with the balancing act of work, raising our children, spending quality time with our families, and carving out personal time for ourselves. We're often left feeling stressed and drained, and wondering how we can find more time, space, and energy in our lives. How can mindfulness help us? Research shows that mindfulness provides numerous positive benefits for our health and well-being. These well-researched, practical tools help bring a greater sense of patience, kindness and empathy into the home, greater calm and balance to our lives, and a renewed sense of joy and strength to our families and communities.

In this talk, Trisha will define what the word "mindfulness" really means, how and why using these tools as parents leads to greater connection with ourselves and our kids, peace of mind, resilience and less stress. She'll also show us how, with these tools, we can help support our child's brain at key developmental stages.

TRISHA STOTLER has been teaching mindfulness classes to individuals, groups and corporate clients in the DC area since 2007, including the year-long course she created called Bringing Mindfulness to Life. A long-time Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) instructor, she emphasizes the practical application of mindfulness in all activities. As a breast cancer survivor and a mom to three young kids, she considers mindfulness practice an essential part of her daily life.


A growth mindset is the belief that intelligence improves through learning and constant practice. In other words, people with a growth mindset think the brain is like a muscle that grows stronger with training. This workshop teaches children to embrace challenges, persist in the face of setbacks, learn from criticism, see effort as a path to success, and find lessons and inspiration in the success of others. We will use fun and interactive activities where children will learn verbal and mental queues to cultivate a growth mindset. Your children will walk away with a brand new definition of winning and a fresh path to achieving and succeeding at anything they set their minds to.

BILEN (BLAINE) MANDEFRO is an Associate Dean who works with adult learners to help them achieve lifelong dreams of obtaining an education. Blaine works for Strayer University which offers post-secondary education and corporate academic and training programs across 80 physical campuses located in the Mid-Atlantic and Southern regions of the United States, and online. Blaine believes that anyone, regardless of age, is capable of learning and knows that most people only require the opportunity. She is a strong proponent of hard work and a believer of discipline as a means to self-improvement. Before she was an Associate Dean, Blaine worked for two years as Director of Disability Services for the university where she assisted veterans in the Washington DC area further their academic careers. Prior to that role Blaine spent five years managing Student Support Services where she was responsible for managing academic advising and career counseling. The best part of her job however, was developing strategies and a variety of assessment tools to improve the student experience with the goal of graduating her students. It was her experience there that led her to dedicate her career to helping those pursuing educational goals in obtaining their degrees. Blaine holds a Master of Science in Human Resource Management and Organizational Development from Strayer University and a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies and Conflict Management from Wright State University of Ohio. In her free time, there is nothing Blaine enjoys more than reading and traveling. Blaine also volunteers with the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) Beautification Day efforts yearly.


BISRAT ABEBE is an Engineering and Management professional currently working at DC Water, the public utility responsible for distributing clean drinking water and collecting and treating wastewater for the more than 672,000 residents and nearly 18 million visitors to our nation's capital. Bisrat serves as acting Program Manager for Condition Assessment, where he is responsible for the execution of a multi-million-dollar program to assess the well-being of buried pipeline infrastructure in the District of Columbia and neighboring jurisdictions. Bisrat attended Addis Ababa University's Institute of Technology in Ethiopia and is a graduate of Civil, Infrastructure & Environmental Engineering from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. As an Ethiopian who immigrated to America only a month after his 19th birthday, Bisrat grew up navigating the cultural and social differences between his two countries. From a very young age, Bisrat's parents instilled in him a love for Ethiopian, American and World history and he has often used the recitation of History as a bridge to keep connected to his Ethiopian roots and as a means of understanding and appreciating other cultures. Besides History, Bisrat's interests include literature, poetry, Ethiopian cuisine and football (the one where they kick the ball with their feet ☺). His passion is FC Barcelona. Bisrat will be presenting sessions on Ethiopian History, focusing on its aristocratic background and highlighting some famous kings and queens of Ethiopia, their dynastic histories and their significance to the people of Ethiopia.


Chef Guelila Fornetti will teach how to make Ethiopian vegetable dishes. She will also share her journey as a vegan, how this is related to Ethiopian veggie dishes, and why she chose this lifestyle.

Chef Guelila Fornetti was born and raised in Ethiopia, until moving to Virginia at age of 11. Ever since she was a little kid, she loved being in the kitchen with her mother and grandmother. When she changed her lifestyle and became vegan, the scarce restaurants and food options inspired her to learn how to recreate her favorite meals at home. While cooking has always been a passion of hers, she pursued a professional degree in Family Counseling; not yet realizing she would be able to make a career out of her hobby. When she became a stay at home mother, she cooked 3-4 times a day; which inspired her to start her own Personal Chef business. Aside from being a Personal Chef, Chef Guelila has done numerous pop-up restaurants, cooked for retreats and worked on movie sets. She says the best part of her career is the positive feedback she receives from vegans and non vegans, as she negates the myth that vegan foods are bland.


Our camp has a special focus on language, as we strongly believe language is key in connecting our kids to their heritage and culture. As such, we continue offer both children’s and adult’s language classes. As always, we have prepared the language session based on the level/interest we received as part of registration.

DEREJE DESTA is the Manager of Business, Africa, for AudioNow. Dereje was the founder and Publisher of Zethiopia, a Washington, D.C. based, bilingual (Amharic and English) newspaper where he currently serves as editor-at-large. He is a veteran journalist who has served as a television and radio host & producer, and editor for more than 20 years in the U.S. and Ethiopia. He reported and contributed to NPR's "Latitude" show, and won an award for international affairs reporting from New America Media and the American University. Dereje graduated from Addis Ababa University, in 1991, with a Bachelor's Degree in Ethiopian Languages & Literature. He has shared his experience in journalism at public forums in Washington for congressional staffers at the U.S. Capitol, the George Washington University, the American University, the U.S. Library of Congress, and National Public Radio.

Natural Hair Care

The Natural Hair Care for Children is an instructive and informative dicussion that will explain how to care for both girl and boys natural hair. This fun and easy workshop will take the guess work out of product selection, braiding and twisting techniques, detangling, beading, solutions for dealing with breakage and so much more. The goal is to protect, strengthen and nurture the natural beauty of your child's hair so that he/she may wear it with pride and confidence.

APRIL REED,Recognizing that for most women our hair is everything, so making the choice to go natural from relaxed hair or wearing our hair in its natural state, is not just about styling and the aesthetic, it has a lot to do with body image and self-esteem. However, most would agree that achieving and maintaining healthy hair is what's most desired. Mrs. Reed is a firm believer that your hair is beautiful no matter how it is, and we should be comfortable whether our hair is kinky, curly or straight. We should also teach our children, especially our daughters the same. After much time spent researching which styles embraced both curls and kinks, what products work best, and what techniques worked in maintaining healthy hair. She made the decision to share her finding with others. Along the way she saw a need for a product that provides intense moisture. Her Daily Moisturizer is something she made out of necessity, then quickly realized the need to share it with others to help them avoid the frustration she experienced. It is great for both hair and skin. Mrs. Reed currently lives in Gainesville, VA with her husband of 4 years, Justin.


We are pleased to welcome GENET ASTATKE-FAISON as our resident educational specialist. She has taught in Fairfax county school system for 7 years and in Washington, DC for 6 years. She has also homeschooled her kids (now 12 & 14 years old) until the 3rd grade. Her background in teaching is from The Reggio Emilia philosophy focused on preschool and primary education


REBECCA AKLILU is an Ethiopian-American who grew up in Farmington, Connecticut with her younger brother and older sister. Rebecca spent many summers traveling back to Ethiopia with her parents and siblings to spend time with their extended family and learn more about Ethiopian culture. These summers in Ethiopia helped Rebecca and her siblings strengthen their connection to their Ethiopian heritage and bring parts of their Ethiopian culture into their everyday lives in the United States. Rebecca graduated from Georgetown University in 2015, majoring in Finance and Management. After graduating, she worked at Credit Suisse for two years in the Asset Management Division. Currently, she works at Penguin Random House, an international publishing company, where she is a member of the Business Development Group. Outside of her job, Rebecca enjoys cooking, reading and loves traveling to new places


An Intensive Dance Workshop and a performance by our own Heritage and Culture Camp Dance Group has become a unique feature of the camp. We have kids 9 years and older who have already registered for this special dance program, where they will be spending several hours a day learning Ethiopian Traditional Dance as well as words and phrases relating to dance. The dance troupe, featuring matching traditional costumes, will perform on the last day of the camp and provide the musical sendoff to conclude our program with high note

BILEN YOSEPH was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Although she came to the United States at the age of 11, she has kept in close touch with her Ethiopian roots. Bilen is also one of the lead volunteers for the Ethiopian Heritage and Culture Camp from day one. She not only spends many days and weeks in preparation for the Camp, she also takes time off from work to run the Camp with unmatched passion and dedication to kids at Camp.

Thomas Younggrew up in Washington, DC. Though he is not Ethiopian himself, he became intrigued with Ethiopian dance and culture as a teenager. This led to his visiting Africa many times and training to be a professional Ethiopian Dancer. He has now been dancing for fifteen years. For the last 6 years, he has also been teaching dance and Ethiopian culture to children of all ages in a variety of settings. These include AIRFCarpe Diem Youth ArtBeat, in afterschool programs in highs in Montgomery County, MD, and at the Ethiopian Heritage and Culture Camp. Thomas has devoted his life to his passion for Ethiopian culture and dance, as it shows in the upbeat, positive energy he brings to his teaching.

Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony

Every year we look forward to enjoying Ethiopian coffee - roasted, ground and brewed under the big Willow Tree in the traditional manner and evoking the wonderful ritual that is centuries old. Every year with all the music being played throughout the entire event, the camp ambiance is transformed to take us all back to Ethiopia! Mainly, thanks to two talented artists who have been with us from day one!

ALMAZ GETAHUN will host our Ethiopian Coffee Ceremonies. A professional dancer, Almaz, with her partner will entertain us with traditional dancing at the Ethiopian Banquet as well. In addition to being a wonderful host, Almaz will bring joy to the camp with her beautiful smile and playful nature. A great example of Ethiopian hospitality!

Experience Traditional Ethiopian Music

GEZACHEW T/MARIAM The best Masinko player and multi talented, Gezachew T/Mariam, will join us in playing and demonstrating different Ethiopian musical instruments (Masinko, and Washint) for our enjoyment and education. His talent takes center stage at the Ethiopian Banquet as he is joined by his band to entertain us.

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