It’s in the family

Diva Gulati, Online Editor-in-Chief

Consisting of college owners and doctors, senior Adwa Habtu’s family carries a prestigious name, but it is her uncle, Meles Zenawi, Prime Minister of Ethiopia since 1995, who stands out more than the rest.

Habtu learned about her uncle’s position when she visited Ethiopia at age seven or eight.

“[When we visited] they were like ‘Oh yeah! Your uncle rules the country’ and so me and my sister were like ‘Oh my gosh! We’re princesses!’ because we didn’t really understand,” Habtu said.

Although Habtu has never met her uncle, both her mother and her father have gotten to know him. Her parents both grew up in the same area as her uncle and all three attended the same school. Through the numerous stories her parents have told her, Habtu has learned more about him and has grown to appreciate him.

“My parents told me that in Ethiopia when they lived there, the older students were supposed to come back to the town they all lived in and teach the younger students,” Habtu said. “My mom remembers him being really, really smart. He would tutor her and tutor other kids and help them with their classes. If he wasn’t the leader, he’s still really smart, and I think he’d be doing something like that. I would still have a lot of respect for him”

In the next few years, however, Habtu’s relationship with her uncle may change when she visits Ethiopia. Although she will probably not stay with him, she may be able to meet him and get to know him.

“We’ll go to Ethiopia probably not this summer, but maybe next summer,” Habtu said. “If we visit we’ll get to see the whole big mansion he lives in and meet him but other than that, I don’t think we’ll get any perks. But, my whole family is pretty well off in Ethiopia.”

Habtu’s family in Ethiopia and her parents who used to live there all have high expectations for her as she goes to college and starts looking for her career.

“I think my parents expect me to take advantage of everything here because they didn’t grow up in the best education system, he didn’t grow up in the best education system and yet he’s prime minister of Ethiopia and they’re living in an upper middle class town like Plano,” Habtu said. “They’re like, ‘We’ve managed to achiece so you have to achieve even more because you have more resources here.’”

Next year, Habtu plans to major in International Relations at Brown University. She hopes to follow in her uncle’s footsteps and work in the government, possibly with the state department or in US embassies.

“He knows people in the government like the US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice. He’s pretty friendly with her,” Habtu said. “So, that could possibly open up doors for me if I get to know him better. But I may not work in Ethiopia. I could go work in the US embassy in Ethiopia but I’m thinking Morocco, Egypt, Jordan or something like that. I really like foreign language and travel and exploring new cultures. I’d like to work outside of Ethiopia because there is more opportunity diplomatically in the Arab world.”