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Geneti Kumsa

Geneti Kumsa

Pharmacist who now works as a liaison for Minneapolis Public Schools

Born: Rural Western, Ethiopia
Heritage: Ethiopian

My advice is work hard, be respectful, and also just look in your future to be a good citizen. Go to college, graduate, and live a good life and help your families. Whether they are living here or another country.

Geneti Kumsa

Pharmacist who now works as a liaison for Minneapolis Public Schools

My name is Geneti Kumsa. Geneti means heaven and Kumsa means to be reached. I’m from Ethiopia. I was born in 1968. I was born in a rural area on the western part of Ethiopia. My father and my mother are farmers. I have two older sisters and two younger brothers. Being a farmer is very difficult in Ethiopia. The weather is unpredictable. Ethiopia is always affected by drought every year. The main crop grown in Ethiopia is called tef. Tef is a type of cereal and a food staple in Ethiopia. They also grow flax, beans, peas, barley, and wheat.

My faith is Christian; specifically we are practicing the Eastern or Orthodox faiths. The languages I speak are Oromo and Amharic. Usually, Amharic is the official language of Ethiopia. Ethiopia has a different calendar than the Western calendar. Our calendar came from the Coptic calendar. It’s seven years, seven days behind the Julian calendar. So every month has thirty days in Ethiopia, not like here 31, 30, it’s confusing sometimes.

In our country, a child is enrolled in school when he’s five years old. We also learn some English starting from third grade. Starting in seventh grade, every subject is given in English. That’s the way I learned English in my country. When I finished twelfth grade, I went to the University of Addis Ababa in the capitol city of Ethiopia. I graduated in 1988. I have a college degree from Ethiopia in pharmacology.

When you graduate the Government offers you a job. I was assigned by the Ministry of Health to work in a state called Arusi in the central part of Ethiopia. I worked there five years, then requested a change and I went to the capitol where I can be close to my relatives.

I never thought to come to the USA. I have a younger brother here who came before me. There is a lottery called the Diversity Visa. My brother filled my name on the form. The National Visa Center picked my name as a winner. I didn’t know he submitted my name. So this is the way I come to this country in 1998, by winning the Diversity Visa.

My brother found me sponsor who even paid for my flight. I landed in Boston where my brother was a pharmacy student. I lived with him for two years. My first year was working in a parking lot. Then my brother graduated from pharmacy school and he went to West Virginia for his internship. I have this close friend here in Minnesota and he called me to come to Minnesota. I came here in 2000. My first job here was as a school liaison for my Ethiopian community in the Minneapolis Public Schools.

I left my wife and my two children in Ethiopia and I came alone here because of our economic situation. Once I found a job, found a place to live, my next plan was to send them the money, part of the money from working here, that’s how I help them, send them money. After five years, I became US citizen and then I applied for them to come over here and they came in 2004.


Ethiopia’s An Ancient Land

Honoring Geneti Kumsa

Ethiopia’s An Ancient Land
(Honoring Geneti Kumsa)

Nubia, Cush, Punt and Yam.
Ethiopia an ancient land
Where they say first man
And woman began

My name is Geneti Kumsa
Born in Ethiopia
My family they were farmers
I’m the second
of five brothers and sisters
We grow Teff for ingera
Flax and beans, wheat and barley
With no rain, no crops growing
In times of drought,
people hungry
People hungry, people hungry
Without food people hungry

In my world there are angels
Like Maria and Michael
On Easter we carry
The word of God,
the Tablet of the Covenant
With grandmother, with grandfather
Under one roof the generations
Help the children to remember
The ancient wisdom of their elders

By foot, I would travel
To school with no buses
With my friends, no free lunches
Like a mother and a father the teacher
Taught us to respect the elders
Taught us to respect each other
To work hard, with direction
Not to be rude but to guide us
into the future
Into the future. Into the future
To guide us into the future

After 12th grade went on to college
Of Pharmacy to deliver
Medication out in the country
Far from my mother and father
Then got married and had children
Then out of nowhere won the lottery
To come here to America
With a green card started working

When I got here started working
As a parking lot attendant
On the night shift then moved here
With a friend to Minnesota
Started working in the schools
As a liaison in Minneapolis
Saved money, brought my kids here
Always felt like something’s missing
Something’s missing,
Something’s missing
Always felt like something’s missing

In this land of many nations
Many cultures and situations
Everything is for my children
To help with their education
Work hard, be respectful
Live a good life, go to college
Help your family whether living
Over there or in this country

Music by Larry Long. Words by Larry Long with Ms. Brooke Lundgren’s 7th Grade Class of Sanford Middle School. (Minneapolis, Minnesota.)
© Larry Long 2010 / BMI