YouTube: https://youtube.com/watch?v=UhNXdOaXisU
Previous: Bill Gates and John Green Discuss Global Health
Next: Jetpacks and Certain Death: JOIN THE HANGOUT

Categories

Statistics

View count:323,207
Likes:12,986
Dislikes:73
Comments:973
Duration:04:01
Uploaded:2014-09-09
Last sync:2019-06-12 23:20
In which John talks to students at Addis Ababa University (and Bill Gates) and discusses the diversity and complexity of contemporary Ethiopia. Friendly reminder: YouTube adds a second to videos for mysterious reasons; by extensive precedent, this is not punishable.

----
Join the community at http://nerdfighteria.com & http://effyeahnerdfighters.com
John's twitter - http://twitter.com/johngreen
John's tumblr - http://fishingboatproceeds.tumblr.com
Hank's twitter - http://twitter.com/hankgreen
Hank's tumblr - http://edwardspoonhands.tumblr.com
Good morning Hank, it's Tuesday.

So when we think of Africa, we often think of it as one place, right? You know, it's this poor, disease-ridden continent where people live in thatched-roof huts and children don't get good educations, and then there's like a tiny wealthy elite, most of whom wear overly decorous military uniforms, smoke cigars, and laugh about all of the aid that they're embezzling.

But yeah, no.

For one thing, Africa isn't just one place. Most Canadians live closer to Venezuela than Liberians live to Botswana. But for another, those stereotypes are just ridiculous. I mean, I did meet a lot of people who live in thatched-roof huts in Ethiopia and a lot of children who didn't have access to good schools, and corruption remains a significant problem, BUT just as Ethiopia's poverty rate is falling, its middle class is rising. More and more kids go to primary school, and the main university in Addis Ababa which in 1950 had thirty-two students today has more than 42,000. And when I was in Ethiopia I got to meet a bunch of them with Bill Gates including this young woman, Meheret, who started an anti-domestic violence initiative.

[Meheret:] Basically a group of volunteers that, uh, that want to see a better community and that want to see a better country and a better society so we bas—so we work on gender and race violence.

[John:] So yeah, Ethiopia has anti-domestic violence activists and insurance agents and web developers and nurses and etcetera.

Okay Hank, I want to give you a sense of some of these students, like these two young women are pre-med, and they talked a lot about the risks and opportunities of working abroad.

[Pre-med student:] There are so many brilliant minds going to the Western countries and, you know, they won't come back.

[John:] The other students were future engineers and lawyers and a couple people who weren't sure what they wanted to do yet. You know, like me in college.

I waited until like three minutes into the conversation before I asked if they watched Youtube.

[John:] Do—do you watch videos on Youtube?

[Student:] Yeah.

[John:] For fun, or for school?

[Student:] For fun and for school.

[John:] Hank, for fun AND for school?! These people are nerdfighters if ever I have seen one.

But this brings up an interesting problem, which is that the internet in Ethiopia is CRAZY SLOW. [Dial-up modem noise plays] I mean, like, yes, that slow. That makes it hard to watch a lot of creators, it makes it hard to comment; it also takes forever for Tumblr to load. And we talked about how that makes it hard to be an active participant in online communities. Almost all of their social media interaction happens with people they know in real life. To which I said, "What is real life??"

It was also interesting to talk to them about platforms. Like, I asked this future engineer what what social media he uses…

[Future engineer:] Facebook not as much now. I'm more going to Twitter now.

[John:] That's right, Hank. College students all over the world are so over Facebook.

Also, just like I hear from a lot of American students, these students felt a lot of tension between, like, what they dreamt of doing and what they'd been told they should do. Although in their case it wasn't just about parental wishes or future job opportunities, there was also a kind of larger sense of responsibility.

[Future engineer:] Something is expected from you in terms of what your country really needs now.

[John:] And I also heard a lot of concern, which I'm sure some nerdfighters can relate to, that book-learning might not translate to real-world success.

[Student:] You know, I got A+ on different subjects. I know how to do integrations. But how can I just express that in reality?

[John:] Hank I think we have to pause quickly here just to note the astonishing zit on the side of my neck. Are you sentient, zit? Do you have a soul?

Anyway, so after meeting with these students, I went to the library's bathroom, where there was a bucket full of water that you had to pour into the tank in order to make the toilet flush because there is no running water in the library.

Hank, there isn't just one Ethiopia. The college library with no water is Ethiopia, but these future engineers who will build the city's infrastructure are also Ethiopia. These kids are Ethiopia, and so is this doctor, and so are these farmers, and so is this presidential marching band. Now I know that when we see Africa on the news or in the movies it's always like "War! Pirates! Refugees! Disease!" But the stories I saw in Ethiopia were far more complicated and ultimately more compelling. These remarkable young people have seen the greatest drops in poverty rates and infant mortality in their country's history, but every year in Ethiopia, tens of thousands of children still die of easily-preventable diseases. And if we've learned one thing from Global health in the last twenty years, it's that if those kids don't die, and they don't have to, then they can grow up and end up studying in that library.

I'll see you on Friday.