Student Success Stories - Meet Yesewdeg

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. Currently, she works as a staff member with CentroNía, a nationally recognized bilingual education organization. Yesewdeg is helping 12 students before and after school with activities focusing on academic enrichment, self-discovery, and creative exploration.

Recently, she started to teach Amharic to the Carlos Rosario School community. This class takes place once a week at the Harvard Street Campus. Yesewdeg hopes to start a class at the school to teach Amharic to the broader community. She is also active in teaching at church. Every Sunday she teaches children for free at the Kedist Mariam Ethiopian church in Washington, D.C.

Currently, Yesewdeg is enrolled in Computer Literacy classes at the Carlos Rosario School. “Learning English is one thing, knowing how to use the computer to write is another thing,” she said. She thanked the school for giving her opportunities to learn English and for the employment resources they offer.

This school year, Yesewdeg also became a Student Government Representative. She is excited about learning how to be a leader and have a voice at the Carlos Rosario School. Yesewdeg said that it reminds her good memories when she was leader of the Scouts in Ethiopia.