Sunday, December 27, 2015

A Conversation with Sara Tracy Meretab

                                                         The “default” for Eritreans is to help one another.

Issayas: Would you tell us about yourself?

Sara: My name is Sara Tracy Meretab.  I’m currently a Senior at Stanford, graduating in March. I’m majoring in Economics, so I’m interested in business and finance. I grew up in Montclair, New Jersey. My father was born in Asmara and my mother is American.

Issayas: Your video is wonderful.  What can you tell us about it?

Sara: I had so much fun making that video. I took that trip after my freshman year because I told my dad that I wanted to visit Eritrea again. It had been a couple years since my earlier visit, and I felt like there was a lot more value I would get out of the trip now that I was older. I recorded everything. That video is taken from hours and hours of footage! There were two reasons I made the video. The first was to immortalize my trip in my mind—re-watching it always triggers so many warm memories. The second reason was to show the country as I experienced. Both the highlands and the lowlands are beautiful in different ways, and the people have a unique warmth and sense of community. My goal was to convey that spirit in the video. Watch the video below.

Issayas: You and your fellow Eritrean students at Stanford University came to talk to the Adal Tigrinya School in San Jose. You came with the first group. How was your visit ?

Sara: I loved visiting the Adal Tigrinya School. I was so impressed and inspired by the young Eritrean students that I had the opportunity to teach. They’re not your average kids. A 5th grader asked how she could get ahead now so that she could take college courses in high school. A 7th grader took diligent notes on preparation strategies for the SATs. As I stood in front of them, I was in awe of how their parents have worked tirelessly to give them the best opportunities, and engrained a tremendous emphasis on education and a strong work ethic. Those hard working Eritrean kids make me so proud of my heritage. I hope the Adal Tigrinya School continues to grow and strengthen the Eritrean community—I would have loved to have been a part of that growing up!

                                          Eritrean Stanford students Adel (left) and Sara (right) at Adal Tigrinya School.

Issayas: After your first visit to Adal Tigrinya School, you and your fellow Eritrean students at Stanford University decided to start the Stanford-Adal Mentorship Program with the Eritrean high
school students at Adal.  This is a great idea. Do you think this could be a model to other Eritrean communities?

Sara: The Mentorship Program has so much potential in other Eritrean communities around the country. It plays to so many of the strengths that I see in nearly all Eritreans that I meet—hard work, determination, growth and communal support. The “default” for Eritreans is to help one another,
and that is truly special. The network of support for Eritreans could be extremely expansive—middle schoolers mentor elementary school students, high school students mentor middle school students, college students mentor high school students, and young working professional Eritreans mentor college students. We all want to see one another succeed, and as a united community, we have so many resources to help our youth do just that.

                                 Eritrean Stanford students Lewam (left), Eden (center), and Adel (right) at Adal Tigrinya School.

Issayas: You are graduating next quarter, what is your plan?

Sara: When I graduate in March, I plan on taking a couple months to travel. There are many parts of Europe and Africa that I would like to see. I will also be spending some time with my family in Pennsylvania, before returning to San Francisco where I will start working at Visa in August.

                                                           Watch Sara's video below.

                                                                  Sara's Gopro video
Issayas: When is your next trip to Eritrea?

Sara: I don’t have a tripped planned to Eritrea..yet! I was considering taking another trip with my father again after I graduate, or perhaps a trip alone. I also promised myself after the last visit that I would be much more comfortable with Tigrinya when I returned—so I’m still working on that!

Issayas: Thank you for your time and congratulations. Of course, we will keep in touch after you've graduated.