By: Bahlibi Tekle & Hassen Ferej
They say it’s always sunny in California, so what better place to host the 4th Keren High School reunion than Los Angeles! The beautiful Keren-like weather of La Mirada gave everyone great comfort throughout the three-day conference. We’re happy to share that the event was a great success and beyond our expectations and good job for the collective work on the standing committee and well done for the Los Angels members with the leadership of Kibra Ghebre and Dr. Woldemariam.
Friday: Our event opened officially at 6 p.m. (PST) on Friday and most of the conference participants arrived that day. The Los Angeles members provided visiting members with Ingera, Tzebhi and other special foods as people gathered to talk, laugh and relax. They really rolled out the red carpet for visitors and their hospitality left everyone delighted and appreciative of the event. Following dinner, our dedicated musicians Dashim and Sami entertained the audience with new and old nostalgic songs until 11:45 p.m.
Saturday: This was the day we all waited for, a chance to see all gathered in one place and to hear from our special invited speakers. Dr. Woldemariam opened the day with a minute of silence to remember all of our martyrs. He then welcomed everyone on behalf of the L.A. members. Our chairman, Abraha, explained the objectives and history of our union and introduced the standing committee members. Zeinab provided a brief explanation in Arabic of what Abraha said in English.
Our Hollywood star, Dr. Fickak, took over the podium to lead the day as master of ceremonies. Our keynote speaker for this year’s reunion was Mr. Mahmoud Khannoni surrounded by all of his family members who brought style and taste to the conference. He emphasized the importance of working hard to never forget our background. While waiting for the next speaker, in true Hollywood style, Dr. Fickak was entertaining the crowd using his usual talents. Keren is made up of many special people liked by everyone, and it was sadly announced that Zaza (Idris), one of the symbols of Keren, died.
The next speaker was Dr. Kiflemariam Hamde who traveled all the way from Sweden. His presentation included a sample of popular songs from 1960 to 1991 during the massacres and sufferings in Eritrea before independence. This served as a reminder to many of the members who did not know the history. Our next speaker was Dr. Saba Yohannes-Reda from LA who presented on a very important topic for many of the members. She discussed parenting tools to aid in raising happy and successful children. She touched on many of the main concerns taking place in Eritrean households and urged parents to move towards providing positive reinforcement to their children.
All the youth and elders were excited and waiting to hear from our next speaker, Ms. Haben Girma Kidane, a motivational speaker, who lives in California and is a well-known advocate for disabled people. Haben delivered an impactful message about the importance of always trying. Trying to do whatever you want because there is nothing which hinders you from achieving your goals whether you have a disability, or not. Haben’s presence gave our fourth reunion a big boost and determination to continue.
Towards the end of the evening, we were entertained by a reading of poems by Brot Tekle and Mussie Bekit, followed by an open discussion about the objectives and frequency of our reunions. In the end, participants agreed that the reunions should occur every two years.
We ended the evening first with a special dinner together, and then from 8 p.m. – 1 a.m., our musicians Dashim and Sami took the stage to provide entertainment for the rest of the night.
Sunday: This was the day we enjoyed a special picnic on the park. The Los Angeles members made the day special by providing us breakfast with Shehan full and Ge’at (Kalla). It brought up the real meaning of Keren. There was a lot of BBQ and many local drinks prepared by the LA members. The day we enjoyed a special picnic on the park.
Monday: This time the reunion was not for 3 days as usual, but added up a fourth day to tour Los Angles. A tour bus was organized for the group: A tour to Hollywood that comprises Hollywood walk of Fame, Hollywood – entrainment center, Beverly Hills, home to the rich and the famous and one of the most glamorous neighborhood in LA. Santa Monica Pier that is featured in many movies. Some have even the chance of visiting the Universal Studios. Those who attended it enjoyed it very much.
Overall the days were full of fun and enjoyable. There were members who came all the way from Sweden, Germany, Eritrea, England, and Abu Zebi. And, of course our cameraman Haji was ready to capture every moment.
Thanks for your support and to everyone who took part in the 4th Keren Reunion!