Yesewdeg Kassa’s entire life can be summarized in one word: teaching. In fact, teaching is a family affair. Her father was a teacher, one of her brothers and two of her sisters are teachers too. Yesewdeg is proud of having taught several generations of Ethiopians who now live around the world.
“I love teaching. I will never give up. Teaching is inside of me,” she said. Yesewdeg was 16 when she started developing an interest in writing and 18 when she graduated from the Teacher Training Institute. After 16 years of teaching, she graduated from Addis Ababa University with a degree in Language and Literature. In addition to teaching English and Amharic, Yesewdeg was also teaching different subjects like science, sports and arts.
As a teacher, she confronted a reality: male dominance over women in school. Yesewdeg used writing as a formidable weapon to advocate around this recurrent issue in Ethiopia. After 30 years of teaching literature, she produced her first book, a textbook for Amharic literature classes.
“It was the first book that has been used as a textbook for Amharic oral literature,” Yesewdeg said. The author explored traditional Amharic. She used oral traditions as tools to speak out on the issue of abused women in Ethiopia. “The textbook has become a reference book for my fellow teachers and theatrical arts students,” she said.
Even after 37 years in the profession, Yesewdeg has not given up teaching and writing. Every Sunday she teaches children for free at the Kedist Mariam Ethiopian church in Washington, D.C. In February 2017, she published her second book titled Feminism and Education. In this book, Yesewdeg denounces the regression of the status of women and other negative prejudices towards women. The author emphasizes equal opportunities for men and women, especially at school. She wants to see abused Ethiopian women free themselves from exploitation and use their abilities as full citizens to contribute to their families. Yesewdeg is writing her third book.
Now that she lives in the U.S., Yesewdeg Kassa hopes to teach and write in English. “Learning English is the key,” she said. Yesewdeg is enrolled in intermediate English classes at the Carlos Rosario School. She thanked the School for giving her opportunities to learn English and for the employment resources they offer. Her goal is to start a class at the school to teach Amharic to the school population and the community.