We give you today an amazing example of hard work, success, and modesty. Mr. Tesfabrhan Michael is a Lecturer in the Department of Sociology and Social Work at the college of Arts and Social Sciences, as well as a guidance counsellor, mentor and development consultant. He will be sharing his experience.
– Thank you for your time, may you tell us a little about your background?
Sure. Thank you for the opportunity. I was born in Adi Maele, located in the Gash Barka region. My family moved there from Mlezanai (Logo Anseba) and left to Sudan after two years time to escape the colonial plight of that time. Much of my elementary school studies were completed in Sudan, and I then pursued junior and high school education in Goluj and Tessenei, respectively.
– What was your childhood like?
I had a wonderful childhood. I can still vividly remember helping out in various ways on the farm, doing random tasks and chores. But I was also very sociable, spending time with friends and engaged in different activities. It was a wonderful community, full of culture and diversity. Looking back, I think that my childhood was the period when I first became sensitized to or developed interest in social processes and phenomena, essentially setting the foundation for my current academic and professional interests in sociology, social work, and the like.
As a child, I especially loved the outdoors and school. Throughout elementary I was one of the high achieving students, and during high school I even received several prizes and awards in recognition of my academic accomplishments.
– after high school, you went on to Sawa. How was that?
Honestly, it was an amazing experience. Sawa, in many ways, is a lot like a rite of passage, particularly in terms of transiting from adolescence to adulthood. In addition to providing an opportunity to learn about Eritrea’s rich, colourful, diverse cultures and meet people from all walks of our society, Sawa teaches and helps develop a great variety of skills and intangible assets. Things like responsibility, self-reliance, leadership, perseverance, and teamwork. Learning and refining these skills have benefitted me in my academic, professional, and personal life.
I then got in to the University of Asmara where I majored in Sociology and Social Work…I tremendously enjoyed it. I’ve always been interested in patterns of human social behaviour, and underlying social phenomena in political, economic and legal systems have also greatly intrigued me. I began to further delve into the implications of things like wealth, power, social class, age, gender and race. Since, as a social science, we don’t always have definitive, concrete answers, I enjoyed observing and exploring many different factors and theories which may provide insight into or understanding of human social patterns and behaviors.
– Currently, you lecture at CASS – how have you found teaching?
Yes. After graduating from the University of Asmara, I was assigned at the Ministry of Labour and Human Welfare – the headquarter office – as a junior expert in monitoring and evaluating NGOs projects around the country. Afterward, in 2011, I began lecturing at the College of Arts and Social Sciences in Adi Keih. I don’t really see teaching as a profession…it’s a passion and a mechanism to help positively shape the future. My own teaching approach begins with the conviction that every student possesses unique capabilities that can be uncovered, cultivated, nourished, and shared if offered the appropriate guidance, proper platform, and support.
I also serve as a guidance counsellor and mentor. Adolescence and young adulthood are periods of flux, change, development, and growth, and students often require support and
– How did you get into that (i.e. counselling and mentoring)? Why is it important?
I have broad experience as a counsellor and mentor, to be honest. I was among the founding members of the Hotline Telephone Counselling. People in need – specifically those facing various personal issues –call in, and we offer support and strategies for coping. Additionally, I’ve regularly worked on a National television program where I am one of the co-hosts and we lend support to viewers who sent in questions.
These initiatives are all significant and vital because we, as communities and a broader society, don’t have many outlets for helping those with psychosocial challenges and issues. I think it’s an area where we can augment our programs and initiatives to further improve.
– I had the opportunity to skim through your book, ‘Parenting: The Best Way’ (available in national working languages), published several years ago. What was your inspiration?
I just felt that prevention and a more holistic approach to parenting and family life could encourage positive outcomes in our families and communities.
The book is guided by a lot of my own experiences and personal observations. I think we should encourage children and help provide them the tools to overcome their obstacles and succeed. We’ve increasingly realized the importance of science, logic, and rationality and how those can play positive roles in our individual and family lives. Supporting the growth and development of people, especially children, is not only morally good, but it also serves to benefit individuals, communities, and societies through the prevention of future problems or issues.
– Regardless of the challenges and obstacles you’ve faced, you been so successful. What’s the secret?
First, it’s vital to understand that challenges and obstacles are a feature of life. The important thing is how you deal with and approach them. This may sound cliché or trite, but to be honest I never look at challenges as obstacles or daunting. Instead, I choose to approach them as opportunities to grow, develop, strengthen, and learn. Even a failure doesn’t have to be necessarily so, if you are able to learn and grow from it.
– What are your future plans and ambitions?
In the near future, I’d like to complete my M.A., focusing on Sociology and related topics…things like, migration, development and inequality challenges. More broadly, I want to contribute and give back to my community and society. Ultimately, I see myself utilizing my education, training, and experiences to bring about positive social changes.
– We wish you the best in all your endeavors!
Thank you. I greatly enjoyed it.