Town-gown partners showcase Columbus-OSU ties with Addis VIPs

By Christine O’Malley
Ohio State University
Executive Director of Health Sciences

Last week, we had a tremendous visit by 11 delegates from Addis Ababa University. The delegates met with Ohio State’s university and health sciences leaders. Many potential collaborations were discussed as we explore ways to broaden our One Health initiative.

Some of the delegates were able to visit with City of Columbus representatives. Greater Columbus sister Cities International Inc. posted this on its Facebook page:



It’s so great to have a strong town-gown partnership when Ohio State brings international guests to Columbus!


The business of rabies elimination in Ethiopia

By Danielle Latman
Ohio State MBA student

Seven Master of Business Administration students from Ohio State’s Fisher College of Business will visit Ethiopia for three weeks in May as the in-country portion of our Global Applied Projects class. The class is taught by Kurt Roush and advised by Professor Scott Livengood.

We are: Javed Cheema, Katie Fornadel, Carla Garver, Alejandra Iberico Lozada, Daniel Meisterman, Niraj Patel, and me, Danielle Latman. Combined, we are from three different countries, have traveled to almost 70 countries, and have 65 years experience in sales, marketing, operations, financial services, nonprofit and military industries.

From left: Katie Fornadel, Alejandra Iberico Lozada, Daniel Meisterman, Danielle Latman, Niraj Patel and Carla Garver. Not pictured: Javed Cheema.

From left: Katie Fornadel, Alejandra Iberico Lozada, Daniel Meisterman, Danielle Latman, Niraj Patel and Carla Garver. Not pictured: Javed Cheema.

The Ohio State / Ethiopia One Health Partnership asked us to harness our business skills to help operationalize the partnership’s rabies elimination project, adding a layer of practical implementation to the research and training that veterinarians and scientists have already developed. We have split up into teams focusing on the finance, marketing, operations, logistics and data collection functions of the rabies elimination project. Our goal is to develop a proposed roadmap that will allow the U.S. And Ethiopian partners to implement the rabies elimination One Health model project on a targeted region in Ethiopia.

We will travel to Ethiopia from May 1-25 to work with officials in Addis Ababa and Gondar. For the past seven weeks, we have met with the CDC, Drs. Gebreyes and O’Quinn, cultural anthropologists and social service agencies to prepare for our trip. We have also eaten at the lovely Lalibela restaurant here in Columbus, received our travel visas, and gotten a lot of shots — and were dismayed to find a shortage of the yellow fever vaccine in the U.S.!

For all of us, this will be our first time visiting Ethiopia and sub-Saharan Africa in general, and we are excited for what are sure to be many new and rich experiences! We are looking forward to exploring the natural environment of the Blue Nile Falls and Simien Mountains, driving overland from Addis Ababa to Gondar, seeing the history of ancient castles and churches, visiting marketplaces and drinking delicious coffee with each other and our new colleagues and neighbors. We are thrilled for the opportunity to contribute our business skills and passion to build on the One Health Partnership’s success and help eliminate rabies in Ethiopia.

One Health web feature — inspirational Buckeyes

By Christine O’Malley
Executive Director of Health Sciences

Our university communications team just posted this great web feature on our One Health initiative in Ethiopia:

Here’s the link to the full story:

Things that struck me from the video:

Cervical cancer is the second-highest cause of death in Ethiopia, yet it’s very treatable if caught early. Our cervical cancer project is working to address that.

The student interviewed, Korbin Smith, went to Ethiopia as part of the rabies project. This was a fantastic student learning experience for him and our other students. This initiative benefits both our partners in Ethiopia by improving people’s lives and our community here at Ohio State by providing international learning opportunities.

I hope you are inspired as much as I am by our faculty, students, and One Health partners.

The future of social work in Ethiopia — its students

By Tom Gregoire
Dean, Ohio State College of Social Work

Yemataw is a social work student at University of Gondar, Ethiopia. He’s a great example of the future potential of our field in this country.

Yemataw works with Hope for Tomorrow, an agency that shelter’s homeless children and young people rescued from human trafficking. Children live in a home with up to 15 other children. The agency builds their model around a foster-care type approach.  Each home has a mother and father assigned to it.  The children are enrolled in school, get regular health care, and care for each other like a family.

Social work is a relatively new profession in Ethiopia, and its benefit to health and well-being is not well understood here. I’m here with two other members of Ohio State’s College of Social Work to meet with social work colleagues at the University of Gondar. Associate Professor Jacquelyn Meshelemiah, Associate Director of Field Education Elon Simms and I are here during Ohio State’s spring break. As I write this, we are more than halfway through our visit.

Our trip follows multiple meetings with Gondar representatives both in Columbus and Washington, D.C. Our Gondar colleagues identified the important role of social work in health care, and asked us to assist them in advancing their work in that area. Gondar is one of only six social work programs in Ethiopia. (There are more than 400 programs, and 220 graduate programs in the U.S.)

Beginning in the fall of 2104 Gondar will offer only the second Ethiopian graduate program in social work. (Addis Ababa was the first in 2006.) We are assisting them in the implementation of their new MSW program.  Our assistance currently takes the form or reviewing curriculum and consulting on field and community education.  We anticipate teaching and supporting research here in the future.

We began on Monday by meeting the social work faculty.  That day was devoted to teaching each other about our programs, and the role of social work.

On Tuesday we presented to the collection of social work, nursing, and medical faculty and students. Jacquelyn discussed social work in health care, I presented a conceptual framework for graduate professional education (hopefully more interesting than it sounds), and Elon addressed the role of field practicum and community engagement in social work education. Our presentations were followed by thoughtful and creative conversation.


Elon, Yemataw, myself, and Jacquelyn at Hope For Tomorrow.


On Wednesday we toured social work agencies and met with both staff and the Gondar social work students who were placed there.  That’s where we met Yemataw.





We spent much of the rest of the morning at the University of Gondar hospital.  In our interviews with physician and nursing staff we learned that social issues are among the most frequent barriers to recovery.

Although there is recognition of the high need for the services that social workers provide, there is limited understanding by other professions of the role of the social worker.


Asmech at Gondar Hospital


Asmech is one of just four social workers who cover the entire University Hospital.  A similar sized hospital in the U.S. might have 50 or more social workers.  Family members are mostly on their own to discover the social work service, as referrals are infrequent.






After leaving the hospital we toured another shelter for girls where we met Mahi, another social work student.  Mahi works at a childcare program.  In Gondar when a woman is imprisoned her children are often placed in the prison with her.  This childcare center exists for those children, who are bused to the center from prison each day and returned to their mothers in prison at the end of the day. Today, we’ll meet a student, Eden, who is planning to conduct research on the emotional lives of these children.


Mahi, a social work student who works at a child care center.



It’s inspiring to meet these students who embody the future of the social work field in Ethiopia.





Our evenings have been spent in dinners with our Gondar colleagues. During those gatherings we have learned much about Ethiopian culture, the needs of this country, and most exciting; the great potential of a partnership between the University of Gondar and The Ohio State University College of Social Work.  I am inspired by this country and its people and look forward to a long and beneficial partnership.


With our partners at the University of Gondar.




Training is over, but learning endures with Ethiopian partners

By Christine O’Malley
Executive Director of Health Sciences
Fulbright Specialist, Ethiopia 2014

Today was the last day of our communications training on branding, content, and social media. What a terrific experience! We had participants from both University of Gondar and Addis Ababa University. At today’s final session, I handed out certificates, Ohio State Block O pins, and DVDs of the full course. Thanks to Kevin Kula in ODEE’s office for providing the DVDs and to Usha Menon for bringing them! IMG_0851







Throughout the training, our host, Mustofa Worku, supplied us with tea, coffee, and cake. It was a great opportunity to mingle and learn more about the participants, which I was happy to do.

Coffee breaks are still time for learning!
IMG_0639 IMG_0640

During one break, Getachew Mekonnen from UOG’s Department of English Language and Literature enthusiastically shared his plans for teaching a course on English for law students and another course on English for students in the tourism and hospitality program.

During another break Yemataw Wondie told me about UOG’s activities related to teaching and learning evaluation.

At today’s final coffee break, I learned from another UOG faculty member, Tefere Eshetu, about his interest in environmental law. He is pursuing his PhD and is working on a research project related to water-related laws and policies, and the safety of rivers in Addis Ababa. It reminded me of the work our One Health partnership is doing on environmental health.

I learned another great tidbit from Mulugeta Bayisa, a faculty member in UOG’s College of Medicine and Health Sciences. Apparently, UOG’s program in physical therapy is the only one of its kind in Ethiopia. The college is looking for partners to build capacity within the department. I’m adding that to my to-do list!

What a great learning experience this has been so far! Here’s our class photo:








And the group surprised me with an Ethiopian scarf featuring OSU-red! I’m wearing it as I write this.








For more photos of today’s certificate presentations, visit our new Flickr set:

And I can’t close this part of the project without acknowledging the tech staff in the E-Learning Center. Without their help, it would have been tough to present the sessions.

For the remainder of my time here, I will focus on writing a strategic communications plan, in collaboration with UOG’s PR staff, and advancing our partnership on multiple fronts, which I hope to write more about soon.

Respond to a negative?

By Christine O’Malley
Executive Director of Health Sciences
Fulbright Specialist 2014

Our communications training at the University of Gondar is in full swing. The training takes place here in the e-Learning center.















We’ve covered branding, and we’re getting into content.

Yesterday we had a great discussion about inviting your audiences to share content via social media. One of my examples of how this could go awry was the McDonald’s 2012 fiasco with #McDStories. (For more:

Of course the question came up about responding to negative comments in social media. McDonald’s response to the above was to pull the McDStories campaign and eventually the tweets died down.

On Friday, we’re going to delve more into strategic engagement in social media, including handling negative comments.

I invite our readers to use the comment box on this blog to chime in. How would you advise our trainees on the following:

  • In managing an organization’s social media, do you respond to or ignore negative comments? Why?
  • How often do you post on your organization’s social networks? What’s the minimum? What’s too much?

Thanks for sharing with our group!

New website, same great blog

By Christine O’Malley
Executive Director of Health Sciences
Fulbright Specialist 2014

Hello! Welcome to our new One Health website. We continue to post information about the Ohio State / Ethiopia One Health Partnership as well as other one health activities of Ohio State’s seven health sciences colleges. So much has happened since last year, we thought an expanded website would capture this progress.

It’s now 2014. Ohio State’s College of Nursing sent a team to Gondar in January, and they will return in March. The cervical cancer screen-and-treat project continues to be a priority, but one of the March trainings will be on life-saving techniques for drowning victims. We’ll post updates of the March visit here. The nursing team will also be joined by Ohio State’s College of Social Work, as they explore possible education and research partnerships.

Right now, I’m at the University of Gondar to lead a Fulbright Specialist project on institutional communications, help finalize the agenda for the 2014 summer institute, and facilitate a meeting about a potential new pilot project.

IMG_5597The first thing I noticed is that I have left the snow and winter behind. Not a bad thing, in my mind! Beautiful mountains, light breezes, and a warm sun. That’s Gondar.

Our institutional communications training started this morning, with an intro to iTunes U. I created a course,, and I’m presenting it in person here for the first time. We had a minor technology hitch with getting everyone set up with an Apple ID, and the download speeds were on the slow side.


We are making the best of it by downloading the whole course for all the participants to share. Another nice development is that Addis Ababa University will send a group to participate during one of the training weeks. I really look forward to meeting that team as well.

One thing you quickly notice about the university and the city of Gondar, is the contrast between progress and the past:


Construction scaffolding is everywhere. With new buildings at the university, the campus will look like a different place in a short time.


New construction in the downtown area seems like mostly banks and hotels. Gondar’s tourist industry is growing. At breakfast at my hotel this morning, guests were speaking several different languages.

And in our intro session this morning, everyone shared how the digital communications revolution has affected them – faster speed of information, more time spent on social networks, more channels available, sometimes less civility. It’s obvious that many people use cell phones here, though it seems tablets are more rare.

But as you drive around the city, many people still use donkeys or walk long distances.


It’s only my second day here, but I have a feeling I’ll discover many other contrasts. Of course, I could not get around to see all this without the generous time spent by my gracious hosts at the University of Gondar.


Thanks for visiting our blog.



An island monastery in Lake Tana

By Laura Binkley, student
Ohio State College of Public Health and
School of Environment and Natural Resources

During a quick visit to Bahar Dar, we were able to venture into Lake Tana. Lake Tana is the widest lake in Ethiopia and one of the largest lakes in all of Africa. Emptying into the Nile River, it contains several islands. Many of these islands possess ancient monasteries that have been well preserved by the monks. We decided to take a boat tour that would take us out to one of the islands.

Traveling across the lake provided us with fascinating views of the landscape and a strong sense of calm after an intense week of data collection. As we moved through the lake we passed giant pelicans, townspeople cleaning their clothes in the lake, and fisherman fishing in hand-made papyrus boats that seemed impossible to balance in. On our way to the island we crossed paths with the Nile River itself which was a pretty incredible experience.

When we stepped off of the boat onto the island we were surrounded by green. A vast field included papyrus plants and a variety of trees and plants from coffee to mango and banana. We walked down a small mud path towards the monastery where we were greeted by villagers selling fresh fruits and tiny handmade papyrus boat souvenirs among other things.

Once we arrived at the monastery we paid our fee to enter and were then led by an elderly monk to a small stand that he called a museum. He explained that the monastery had been around since the 12th century and then proceeded to show us the contents of the museum which consisted of ancient books, an emperor’s robe, elaborate crosses, and other priceless valuables of the church.

Once our tour of the museum stand was complete the monk lead us to the monastery itself. The monasteries on all of the islands are circular in shape with three main parts. We started at the outer part which consisted of a small wall left open to the outside that surrounded the monastery. Here was where we were to take off our shoes before entering the sacred place.

We were then lead inside to the second part. This section was dark except for the little light that illuminated the walls which  were covered in beautiful Christian art pieces. There were also ancient worship drums that were made of clay and covered in hide. We were not allowed to enter the third section where a sacred arc in honor of Mary was hidden. I can only imagine how fascinating it must look.

Once we had a chance to look around for a bit we grabbed our shoes and exited the monastery. We thanked the monk and then headed back down the trail to the boat that had been waiting for us. The boat then headed back towards the mainland again. It was all a very surreal experience that can only be found here in Ethiopia.


Haggling for souvenirs

By Korbin Smith
Student, Ohio State College of Medicine
School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences

After the conference in Addis finished, we were about to do some touring throughout the capital of Ethiopia.  Downtown Addis has the biggest market in all of Africa.  This market is essentially hundreds of small stores all selling a mixture of food, clothes, and souvenirs. Growing up in a family in which going to garage sales was a regular family activity, I was prepared for the price negotiations.  In other words, “this wasn’t my first rodeo.”

While I did have a decent amount of birr to spend on souvenirs, I wasn’t giving up my money without a price battle.

After feeling out the atmosphere of many different shops, I began the negotiations. I am not going to name the specific things I was purchasing to avoid ruining the surprise for people back home, but I can describe my negotiation strategy.

I picked two items I liked in one store, and the owner told me 300 birr.  I decided that it would be a good strategy to offer half the asking price.  After being shocked that I was haggling, the owner said 250. I followed up with 200.  Ultimately I said 215 as my final offer, and they took it saving me 75 birr. (That one is for you Dad.)