How Barouk Gari wants to invest in Ethiopia

“I don’t want to miss out on the opportunity of being one of the people that changed Ethiopia forever.” 

I grew up with a God-fearing family, so I am blessed to say that I knew Jesus since I was very young. Before coming to college, I was actively participating in my church in Ethiopia. I served as a youth leader and also as drummer for the worship band. I still consider the friends I made there my closest. It was my life. 

In America, everything felt a bit foreign at first. As an international student at Ashland University, I needed someone to show me around and get me used to American culture. 

I first connected to the CCO through Jake Blasdel, the CCO staff person at Ashland. Jake is one of those people who always has a smile on his face, who always wants to hang out and have a conversation. We have a common interest in sharing the gospel with international students on campus. 

Since my first year, I have grown spiritually through the CCO, found good friends, and I am actively participating in whatever the church has to offer. 

When Jake invited me to go to the Jubilee conference, I accepted his invitation. We had a powerful time, with incredible community and worship. I still remember Jake and my friends looking at me funny when I was dancing during worship. “That’s how we dance back home, and this is the song we dance to!” I told them. After that, I wanted to be as involved as possible. 

I am learning to not compromise my faith or my culture and to speak boldly about who I am and who I am not. Jubilee reminded me that, as Christians, we are not of this world—we have a higher calling. It’s not about what you have done, but what has been done for you. I learned that, as a Christian, I am never called to mediocrity. I have a mission that transcends all missions, and that’s working for God. It’s powerful. It’s strengthening and equipping. 

After college, and possibly grad school, I will be heading home to Ethiopia. Ethiopia is one of the fastest- growing nations in the world. Although my country has a long way to go, it might not be long before Ethiopia is finally self-sustaining and its people are out of poverty. Although America has been an outstanding experience so far, my calling is back home. Ethiopia is one of the earliest Christian nations in the world. Christianity is embedded in our culture. The country is seeded in Christian values, and even in our greetings, we bless God. 

I am majoring in international business, and right now I am planning to work with my father’s company before hopefully starting my own business. Through his international transit company, my father deals a lot with foreigners planning to work in Ethiopia, and my education should come in handy in that area. 

But if God’s willing, I would love to work in the ministry of Public Affairs, the office that is responsible for international relations. Government work in Ethiopia is not easy. With widespread corruption and nepotism, Ethiopia’s government is in dire need of God’s presence. 

International business teaches you an appreciation of other cultures and a sincere interest in the world. Being a Christian, you are never ignorant of others; you are honest in your work and never back away from your responsibilities. 

I want to go back to Ethiopia because I want to serve my country in any way that I can. In this great age in Ethiopian history, you see a lot of young individuals taking up the reins of the country in politics, business, and culture. They have slowly started taking over the country, hence the huge growth. I want to be a part of that growth. I don’t want to miss out on the opportunity of being one of the people that changed Ethiopia forever. 

—Barouk Gari, Ashland University 2017, International Business and Political Studies

This story first appeared in the summer 2016 issue of On Campus magazine.