President Obama’s historic trip to Africa culminated in a visit to Ethiopia, where the President spoke at the African Union. President Obama is the first U.S. president to visit Ethiopia, and English Language Fellow Matthew Jellick used this historic opportunity to organize a trip to the speech among his students at Ambo University.
Having spent five days on a two-country tour, President Obama shared both his hopes and his concerns to a packed audience of 2,500 attendees inside Mandela Hall. Jellick was appointed the Deputy Director for the White House Press Center, which explains how he was able to bring over one hundred students and teachers from the university. Jellick’s group was the single largest contingent in attendance, apart from the Union members themselves.
“As a witness, I can attest to the positive politically and socially charged atmosphere which was felt throughout those in attendance, waiting to hear from the Leader of the Free World what he and his administration view as the paths which have gotten Africa to where it is, along with the direction he hopes it will continue to follow,” Jellick said. “A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I have no doubt that the remembrances from a Tuesday afternoon in late July will continue to resonate for years to come with each of those Ambo students who were lucky enough to be there.”
President Obama directed most of his speech towards the future. He touched on topics as wide-reaching as culture, the progress of Africa, and security and peace.
The members of Jellick’s Women’s English Club were excited that President Obama addressed issues dealing with gender equality, which is an important topic they don’t typically hear within an East African context. President Obama’s point that, “The single best indicator of whether a nation will succeed is how it treats women…” was most likely the first time many of the women in the audience had heard a speaker as prestigious as President Obama address this important topic.