From: dehai-retreat (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Wed Jul 01 2009 - 06:40:19 EDT
A Recap of Dehai Retreat XV's Resounding Success
Dehai Retreat XV has come and gone. We hope everyone had a safe and pleasant trip back. We also hope that everyone had enjoyed the retreat as much as we did.
This year's Dehai Retreat began on Thursday evening with the arrival and check-in of most retreaters. The trip to Hawks Nest State Park, Ansted, WV started around 10:00 a.m. on Friday from Ripley and about 34 adults and 36 children were there for the picnic. The drive to Hawks Nest State Park was breathtaking; the greenery of the New River Valley was awesome, the sights of waterfalls at Kanawha Falls as well as the Cathedral Falls were spectacular. The picnic lunch at Hawks Nest State Park was not only delicious but wholesome as well. After lunch, the children and “brave” adults took the aerial tramway to the bottom of the New River Gorge. The ride on the cable cars was not as scary as many thought it would be.
Later that afternoon we drove to the New River Bridge at Fayetteville, WV. This bridge is an engineering marvel. With its 3030 feet (about 924 m) total length and its single arch extending 1700 ft, the bridge is the world’s second longest single span steel-arch bridge. Its height of 876 feet (267 m), from the river to the bridge, also makes it the world’s second highest bridge. For comparison, the bridge can fit an 88 story building, or as the description near the bridge put it, between the water and the bridge one can stack up one Washington Monument and two Statues of Liberty and still have some more space to fill. Friday’s excursion ended with our return to Ripley around 7:00 p.m.
On Friday evening, people congregated for the traditional bonfire session. Eritrea's funniest jokes, riddles, and stories were told by veteran Dehai Retreat comedians including two ‘God with Us”: Emmanuel and Amanuel (Two names written identically in Tigrigna but spelled differently in English; welcome to the confusion of Eritrean name spellings.) and many new faces. The evening also saw the talent of some up-and-coming comedian kids (Noah Kidane in English and Metkel Samuel in Tigrigna were among the best). This Retreat's memorable jokes were accompanied by tea, coffee and ‘qursi-bun.’
As usual, Saturday was the busiest day at Dehai Retreat XV. It began with raising the Eritrean flag, followed by hiking, sports, kids’ activities, Bar-B-Q, seminars and night entertainment in that order. After the “proverbial 12-mile Dehai” hike, adults and kids played sports-- with the swimming pool dominated by kids and the basketball, volleyball and soccer fields by adults. The tireless kids continued their sports activities into late afternoon. Face-painting, ‘wet and wild’ water balloon games, egg & spoon race, and sack racing were among their afternoon activities. As usual the adults relaxed and chatted over traditional coffee. All these after kids as well as adults had enjoyed one of the best Bar-B-Q in the many years of Dehai Retreat history. Unlike in the past, this year’s weather at Ripley was also very cooperative.
After dinner, children & adults were in separate conference halls for marathon sessions of educational activities. The children evening program included: watching the movie "Shrek" in Tigrigna, and competitions in: Eritrean traditional music, “Challenge your memory in Eritrean languages”, and Eritrean history trivia. The children who participated in these activities were in the 5-13 year age range and were divided into four teams: Asmara, Denden, Massawa and Naqfa for the competitions. All did a wonderful job.
The adults had their record-breaking seminar for length and quality. The quality of the message was accentuated by the quality of the presenters. The topics revolved around telling Eritrea's story—in Eritrea’s own voice. Ambassador Ghirmay started the session with commending Dehai and those who made Dehai what it is for the valuable and important service it is rendering to the Eritrean community inside and outside Eritrea. He also encouraged everybody to work hard so as to take Dehai to an even higher level of contribution to Eritrea and Eritreans. Ambassador Ghirmay’s presentation was followed by Mr. Berhane G. Solomon Head of Public & Community Affairs at the Eritrean Embassy. His presentation was titled “qya bseb wElo: tariK bseb bhlo” where he reminded the audience, with a crisp graphics, how Eritrea’s “wElo” (achievement) needs to be carefully documented and narrated by writers “seb bhlo” so that it could be a lesson “mhro” for future generations. He reminded the audience how, b
ecause of Eritrea’s modesty, pressing present issues that need our undivided attention and several other reasons Eritrea’s unparalleled achievements remain untold. However, we owe it to ourselves, the future generations, and the world we have to do our best to document and tell it.
Mr. Berhane’s presentation was followed by Mr. Issayas Tesfamariam’s presentation that carefully meshed history, psychology and sociology. Issayas’ presentation was titled “In the Shadow of the ‘3000 year-old History’ Myth: Eritrean History Deconstructs the Myth.” He underlined how important communication is; how words, pictures and movies are carefully chosen and edited to communicate myths effectively. He finished his presentation by showing a short video entitled: "Eritrea: the Youngest Old Nation” that underscored Eritrea’s richness in archeology, history and culture. The last presentation of the evening was that of Mr. Benyam Solomon. It was a succinct presentation titled “Harnessing Technology to tell our story in our own Voice: Where we are, and where we want to be.” Benyam detailed the current technologies and how Eritrea’s story: from the print media to the different forms of the internet is being presented, and how most of it does not an accurate picture of the achievemen
ts of Eritreans and their aspirations. He encouraged the audience to think on what must be done to correct this distortion of Eritrea’s image and misrepresentation of facts. As a nice finale to the seminar session the audience watched a 52-minute documentary DVD “Asmara: City of Radiance" directed by Issayas Tesfamariam. The DVD is part of the Eritrea DVD project series that Issayas is working on and is a joint work of Real Life to Reel Life and the Audio Visual Institute of Eritrea. The seminar was moderated by a man of few words, Mr. Yemane Tewolde, who did a good job.
The entertainment was off-the-hook-fantastic. Artists Habtu Teclemariam (vocal and Kirar) and Mokenen Welday (keyboard) played magnificent live music. This was followed by an awesome DJ music into the early morning. Sophia and Sammy G’s attempt to re-sing a venerated revolutionary song by Fihra “Awet Qalsna” to an English tune is to be applauded, but they will need to work on it more. However, we are afraid they might a tough competition from Danayit Samuel (less than one tenth of their age) who is determined to do better.
Finally, we must mention that everyone who made it to the retreat worked hard to make this retreat a memorable one. It wouldn't have been a success without the selfless contribution of so many retreaters. We thank you all but, especially the following individuals:
Our Special Guests/Speakers:
-- H.E. Ambassador Ghirmai Ghebremariam, for taking time out of his busy schedule and spending a weekend with us. We will take his advice to heart. Thank you.
-- Mr. Berhane G. Solomon, for his concise and thought provoking presentation. His informative graphics will remain with us forever. Thank you.
-- Mr. Issayas Tesfamariam, for his educational presentation, that taught us to see pictures, movies, and displays (be it at grocery stores or other places) carefully and to read between the lines and see beyond the headlines. Thank you.
-- Mr. Benyam Solomon for a presentation that challenged us in a succinct manner to think on how best to “harness technology” so as to tell our own story in our own voice. We agree! Thank you.
Other Individuals who made the Retreat Memorable:
-- Ms. Rahel Abraha for face painting the kids for 4 straight hours and bringing so much joy to the kids; it was a back-breaking job. Thank you.
-- Fitsum of Friendly Sounds for providing the sound system free of charge for three years in a row. Thank you.
-- Artists Habtu Teclemariam & Mekonnen Welday from Columbus, Ohio for entertaining Dehai Retreaters with their wonderful music. We lack enough words to thank them. Thank you.
-- Those who grilled the finger-linking good Bar-B-Q. Thank you.
-- Those who braved the heat of Saturday and Friday evening to prepare traditional coffee and tea. Thank you.
-- The people who worked hard to keep the children engaged. Thank you.
-- To all the Retreaters who prepared lots of food and drinks to feed us all. Thank you.
Thank you for coming and don't forget to post your comments and feedback on Dehai or email us at email@example.com
We are sifting through the thousands of pictures that documented Retreat XV and we will post several of them, so stay tuned.
Dehai Retreat Organizers
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