Hands Around the World

10 05 2013

Gimbi, Ethiopia
Photo by Janeen Talbott

I’m so excited about several recent projects. As many of you know, I spent my early years in Africa, so I’m thrilled to have an opportunity to work on two Africa-related projects.


Gimbi, Ethiopia
Photo by Janeen Talbott

The first one is an English reading book for students in Ethiopia. I finished final edits today and received jpgs of two watercolor illustrations.

The artist is an instructor at Addis Ababa University. Wish I could share the art, but I don’t want to run into any copyright issues, so instead I’m sharing photos of the setting, courtesy of Peace Corps volunteer, Neen Talbott, who helped me throughout the project.

I couldn’t have done this project without her. She sent pictures, answered questions, confirmed details, read first and final drafts, and shared the final work with others in her town of Gimbi** to be sure they liked it.


Gimbi, Ethiopia
Photo by Janeen Talbott

It was great working with Neen, but the best part was discovering that she’s also a wonderful writer and a kindred spirit.

Neen was also kind enough to agree to an interview, which I’m posting here. So here’s a brief introduction to the amazing Janeen Talbott.

Where are you from?
I was born in Brooklyn, New York, and raised in south Florida (West Palm Beach).

How did you get interested in the Peace Corps?
I got interested in the Peace Corps when I did a story about its anniversary for my college newspaper. After talking to people who were in the process of applying, or had already served, I decided to take the plunge.
What projects are you working on now?
I just finished a Global Youth Service Day(s) project. Students rallied around to pick up trash on the school grounds, we hung a tree swing and will be decorating old oil barrels in order to use them as garbage cans.


Gimbi, Ethiopia
Photo by Janeen Talbott

I also have a teacher’s English club, tutor aspiring nuns (ages 17-21), help a deaf boy in the town make greeting cards, and run an English teacher’s mentorship program.


Gimbi, Ethiopia
Photo by Janeen Talbott

What do you do for fun during your time off?
Honestly, I sleep and talk to family when I have time off. If I’m not too tired, I read and draw.

How has being in Ethiopia changed your worldview?
Ethiopia has changed my worldview by helping me to understand how fortunate I am. It has also taught me that being fortunate comes with a responsibility. It is my duty to share what I have whether it be knowledge, skills or a kind word.


Gimbi, Ethiopia
Photo by Janeen Talbott

What do you hope to do in the future?
I hope to go to graduate school and one day have my own non-profit organization.

Please tell us a bit about your writing.
My writing is straight from the heart. I do it, mostly for my family and for my sanity. Lately, I haven’t written because I’ve been so busy, but I hope to return to my blog and continue sharing with those who wish to indulge.

If you’d like to learn more about Neen and her experiences, you can see some of her lovely writing at her blog.


Gimbi, Ethiopia
Photo by Janeen Talbott

And stay tuned for more about my next Africa-related project. It’s definitely awe-inspiring.

**Interesting fact about Gimbi for all you Harry Potter fans: As you know, there’s a quidditch team called the Gimbi Giant-Slayers. But the people in Gimbi don’t read Harry Potter or realize their town is mentioned in 450+ million books around the world.



4 responses

23 05 2013

What a wonderful project for you!

2 06 2013
PK Hrezo (@PKHrezo)

Wow absolutely amazing! And so rewarding. Love your world view! The preachers at my church go to Ethiopia every year and I love the pics they bring back and share and hearing about the locals’ lives.

2 06 2013


26 04 2014
Ethiopian Reading Book | Laurie J. Edwards ~ Author, Artist, Dreamer...

[…] I worked on become a reality. I had the fantastic experience of working with Peace Corps volunteer Neen Talbott, and I wrote about that experience awhile back in Hands Around the […]

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