An Experiment of sorts...

The Long Saga of How an Auspicious Idea Spiraled Way Out of Control

After many angst-riddled nights fraught with wailing and gnashing of teeth, (luckily, none of them ours) we've decided to launch SELEDA, a web page for young Ethiopian professionals in the US.

The Idea

Surely, we reasoned, with so many of us scattered throughout the corporate world, it would be sagacious, (hell, downright peachy) if we could congregate somewhere  to exchange ideas and information on surviving and flourishing in corporate America.

We are, after all, scientists and engineers; writers and philosophers; business owners, financiers, physicians, researchers, CEOs, educators, artists, computer geniuses, marketing whizs, mini-moguls and consultants to mini-moguls. (Then there are the lawyers, but anyway.) And with this kind of brainpower, couldn't we use our resources to, er, make this world a better place? (Is that "Kum Ba Ya" we hear in the background?)

Understand: insightful ideas (any ideas) don't oft pass our way, so we've been fervently smitten by this one to carve out a niche on the web, where, as peers, we could better ourselves, our families, and ultimately, our country. Therefore, in a brazen flexing of our deductive reasoning muscles, we thought, yes. Yes, this could be a good thing. And at the point where Ethiopian pragmatism gave way to American impetuousness, SELEDA was born.

The Glitch

OK. We'll admit to mild delusions of grandeur. And frankly, maybe not all our brain cells have thawed out from a harsh winter. But we don't mind divulging that the initial results of a wholly gratuitous survey about starting SELEDA, were, well, less than nurturing.  

Reactions staggered from the cautiously tepid ("Wel-l, that could be nice… maybe"), to the wantonly dismissive ("Yeah, whatever, pass the ketchup"), to one unbridled enthusiasm (thanks, mom). Perhaps, we thought in hindsight, our research should have entailed more than cowering in dark corners and badgering people into forming an opinion.

But that's all hindsight. And despite the sirens of common sense howling at us, ladies and gentlemen, we proudly give you…SELEDA Version 1.0.

Why SELEDA is Necessary

Humm. Were we people who pontificate, (or even people who know people who pontificate) we would have had a succinct mission statement and tidy synopsis in this space. But we aren't kidding about more or less winging this as we go along, so, we have but a series of woolly assumptions to offer you at this point.

Truism #1: Longevity and distance have played havoc with our dreams of returning to live in Ethiopia. As the roots we set in America inevitably grow stronger, there are certain nuances of being the first generation of immigrant Ethiopians that could make for compelling discourse.

Foremost being the conundrum faced by those of us in our mid-twenties to late-thirties, who, on the verge of making major professional and personal commitments, find ourselves bouncing wildly between staunch loyalty to our Ethiopian-ness and guilt for absorbing some ferenjie temperaments.

Hopefully, through SELEDA, we will be able to explore ways of finding a comfortable medium between these two worlds; share the joys and predicaments of being Ethiopians climbing the wobbly corporate ladder; and, eventually, aim for higher and nobler goals of working for the prosperity of Ethiopia and Ethiopians.

The Rules: So We Can Play Nice

Which brings us to truism #2.

Three decisive things make us Ethiopians: a) we don't get the whole apple pie metaphor, b) we are bitter about figure skating being considered an Olympic sport, and, c) if our long-term plans include staying sane, we steer clear from overt discussions of politics. (And despite rabid accusations to the contrary, we at SELEDA intend on staying sane.)

We realize this eschewing of subjects political hinges on the unheard of in Ethiopian circles, and may be even a tad controversial (read: wimpy, think: faint-hearted). But, trust us, you would be better off getting your political fixes at more weighty forums, and not from nimrods like us whose pedestrian foray into politics could very well spark off World War III. (Truth be told, we are still clumsily wading through all of them fancy new acronyms, and we wouldn't want to cause anyone any disquietude lest we unwittingly transpose a letter here and there.)

So, we've decided to suppress our urges (and yours, gentle reader) to issue-surf topics such as 'The Pedagogical Role of the Peasant Politico' on this nascent forum, knowing full well how slap-happy those kinds of discussions can get. (Are those wails of protest we hear? Perhaps we will delve into pedagogical matters later on-- in our Valentine's issue, maybe?-- until then…play nice.)

Therefore, SELEDA will be a literary exploration into our lives through a series of personal essays and discussions. Pencils sharpened and sleeves rolled, we are primed to sagely opine on less incendiary subjects: our work ethic, our struggles and triumphs with family, social relationships, spirituality and financial management matters.

How All This Will Work

Welcome to the bucolic world of "Wodet Alen" : The mother of all databases.

This writer was recently very frustrated by the lack of means to make ye hager ledgioch aware of a cushy position with CNN Public Relations.

Similarly, let's say you are in the field of, er, Micro Managing and Decoding of Stray and Unruly Satellites in Super Galaxies. (It could happen.) And let's say you are looking to relocate to Maxbass, North Dakota (and ultimately, don't we all?). At its optimum, we would like SELEDA to enable you to find the other lone Ethiopian and upright citizen of "Wodet Alen" in burgeoning Maxbass, who could walk you though the finer points of layer dressing and the hidden joys of ice fishing.

You get the point. A strong database will foster an effective infrastructure on which to build a thriving community. SELEDA, though Wodet Alen, could be a conduit to establishing this solid networking tool.

So, join!

In Conclusion

Initially, we are setting very smallish goals, (is this a good time to mention the notoriously under-achieving and hellishly commitment-phobic side of us?) aiming for perhaps a core membership of about 30-40 people. A manageable group will enable us to comfortably work out the kinks and feel out the machinations of this undertaking, without it getting so overwhelming that we promptly abandon all semblace of logic and return to pruning Japanese Maple trees.

Therefore, we have not linked our page en masse to other sights, (did we mention lazy?) but will rely on good word-of-mouth to sustain us through infanthood.

SELEDA will be audacious and salient. But it is also new, and will inevitably make mistakes. So, bear with us. Of course, your suggestions are sought, and your advice coveted, but keep in mind that we are direly sensitive creatures when you reach for your Mont Blancs to verbally emaciate us.

If all of this sounds haphazard to you, then welcome to our world. SELEDA will be whatever we all make it to be. Truthfully, it has gnawed on our spiritual calm that there might not be a market for something like it. Nevertheless, even if we fold tomorrow (do you catch the thinly veiled threat here?) we will be richer for the experience.

Now that we have gotten the niceties out of the way… carry on, carry on.