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>  News Releases >   2008 >   December

Dartmouth students share the story of orphaned Ethiopians in a new book

Dartmouth College Office of Public Affairs • Press Release
Posted 12/15/08 • Media Contact: Latarsha Gatlin • (603) 646-3661 

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Book coverTwo Dartmouth students turned a trip to Ethiopia into an opportunity to help shine a light into the lives of young Africans thousands of miles away.

In 2007, Ben Beisswenger, a member of the class of ’09 and classmate Zoe Dmitrovsky, were both on summer service fellowships in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, a trip funded by the Tucker Foundation and supporting the Human Capital Foundation. During their weeks there, the two, along with students from other American colleges, continued to be amazed by the optimism and cheer of the young people in the Selamta Children’s Center.

The Selamta Children’s Center is a children’s home and a sustainable living facility for children orphaned due to the devastating affects of HIV/AIDS in their communities.

Committed to being more than just impressed by the spirit of the Ethiopian students, Beisswenger, Dmitrovsky and the remaining American students wrote a book to tell the story of Selamta and the young people who live there. “An Unlikely Family” by Anemone Publishing Co. is a collection of first-person stories about the lives of various kids in Selamta. Often heartbreaking, the young people featured remain hopeful of their futures.

“The kids in Ethiopia were greatly interested in the book project,” said Carolynne Krusi, a former dean at Dartmouth and advisor on the Selamta project.

Krusi did the page layout and art selection for the book while American students, called ambassadors, were sending stories and other snippets to Krusi over the summer. When the American students returned, they filled in the gaps and helped with the editing and proofreading. It took nearly 18 months from the time Beissenwenger, Dmitrovsky and the other American students collected the Ethiopians’ story to the time the book came out.

Dmitrovsky worked as a teacher to the young students that summer and through a series of writing assignments each week, the seed was planted for the book.

“The most remarkable thing about these kids is they have experienced unbelievable hardships, yet they’re so appreciative of everything they have at Selamta,” she said. “I asked them to talk to me about what they wanted to do when they grow up and all of them said wanted to do good things for Ethiopia. Their desire is to transform Ethiopia for the better and they’re so thankful that it’s given them the ability to start a new life for themselves.”

As a show of support, on Tuesday, Dec. 16, the Dartmouth Bookstore located in downtown Hanover is hosting a book launching reception from 4:30 – 6:30 p.m. The entire purchase price of each book bought at the launch will be contributed to the Selamta Family Project.

Dartmouth has television (satellite uplink) and radio (ISDN) studios available for domestic and international live and taped interviews. For more information, call 603-646-3661 or see our Radio, Television capability webpage.

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