Remembering Tafari Makonnen at the Third TMSAANA General Assembly

Doug - beginning first semester '64 at TMS

I’m pleased to share these two videos of the keynote address I delivered at the third General Assembly of the Tafari Makonnen Alumni Association of North America on May 29: “Remembering Tafari Makonnen.”  I was truly honored to be invited to speak by Bisrat Aklilu and his TMSAANA Board colleagues, but, to be honest, I was very reluctant to accept the invitation, in light of the many distinguished Ethiopian graduates of Tafari Makonnen School more worthy of the honor than I.

However, I am certainly glad that I did accept the invitation to reflect on my experience as a TMS teacher from 1964 to 1967.  Not only did the keynote afford me the pleasure of reuniting with several former students and meeting other members of the extended TMS family that I’m proud to be part of, I found preparing my comments to be a path to rediscovering my love for TMS and for the students whose lives had become entwined with mine during my three years at what was then Ethiopia’s premier secondary institution.  I didn’t anticipate the emotion I’d feel as I worked on my keynote, searching for the right words to describe my experience as a twenty-something thousands of miles from home a half-century ago, and I certainly didn’t expect the intense joy that frequently engulfed me as I rehearsed the words I’d speak on May 29.

Allow me to tell a story I forgot to share at the General Assembly.  In the summer of 1966, after my first two years at TMS, I returned to the States to spend a few weeks with my parents, who were then living in Pocatello, Idaho, where Dad, who’d sold his business in Illinois, was a university freshman.  It was great to be with my parents and three of my siblings again, and to hear about Dad’s exciting educational journey, but as my visit drew to a close, I woke up one night thinking, “I’m really ready to get back home to Addis.”  And as my plane landed in Addis a few days later, it did, indeed, feel like arriving back home.

How wonderful to have the opportunity – in spirit at least – to travel back home with you on May 29!  I deeply appreciate your making me feel so much a part of the TMS family at the General Assembly, and I hope these video recordings of my keynote address will enrich your memory of our day together.  By the way, I’m sorry about the two brief interruptions in the first video – resulting from a faulty camera battery – but the record of my comments is 99 percent complete.

Please do share your thoughts by commenting on this post.

5 thoughts on “Remembering Tafari Makonnen at the Third TMSAANA General Assembly

  1. Dear Doug, Very much indebted for you memorable presentation, “Remembering Tafari Makonnen at the Third TMSAANA General Assembly”, which will be posted on the TMSAANA website. Your former TMS students and other TMS alumni who heard your inspiring presentation continue to be amazed how a 21 year old fresh graduate from Illinois would have such professional seriousness and total devotion towards students in far away Ethiopia. Thank you for your great contribution to TMS then and your continued contribution now in keeping the TMS name alive through your blog “Intertwined Lives”.

    1. Greetings, Bisrat! It was, indeed, an honor and a pleasure to share my memories with you and other TMS alumni at the General Assembly on May 29. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have been assigned to teach at the premier secondary institution in Ethiopia, and I treasure my memories of my three years at TMS – especially of the students whose lives entwined with mine. Again, thanks so much for inviting me to speak.

  2. My post was:

    A good teacher is like a good farmer. A good teacher sows seeds of knowledge, and nurtures his/her students with life lessons. The fruits of a teacher’s efforts are slow-coming, but long-lasting. Furthermore, they are forever self-propagating.
    A good teacher, by my definition, is someone with high integrity who nonetheless is humble and respects his/her students as individual human beings regardless of their age or gender. After-all, respect engenders respect!

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