Metro Transit employees come from many cultures and backgrounds. To celebrate this diversity, employees who are proud to share their heritage and identity will be regularly featured on the Riders' Almanac blog. Read more stories here.
Tell us a little bit about your background.
I was born and grew up in western Ethiopia, in the province of Welega, as one of nine children. My parents ran a convenience store where I worked growing up. After high school, I did some military training. But in 2000, after my now wife and her parents moved from Ethiopia to Minnesota, I became the first person in my family to move to the U.S. Moving changed everything for me. I have three children, a job, a house…
How did you settle in Minnesota and come to work at Metro Transit?
My first job was in airport security. I drove semis for a year, then saw an ad in the paper saying Metro Transit was hiring. I started as a bus operator and it wasn’t long after that that I became a helper, which is what I’ve been doing ever since. I’ve now been here more than 18 years. When I started, I didn’t know anyone else from Ethiopia, but there are a few other drivers and technicians who I’ve since met from there.
How do you continue to celebrate your culture today?
I speak two languages, Oromo and Amharic, and I regularly travel to Ethiopia to see siblings and other family members. Every year, I also look forward to celebrating Irreecha, which is sort of like Ethiopia’s version of Thanksgiving. After a dark and rainy season, everyone comes together to share food, dance, and celebrate the harvest. In Minnesota, there’s a large gathering at Lake Nokomis that my family attends. There are so many holidays, but this is the one that stands out the most for me, because it’s a chance to celebrate and reflect on my culture.
The Oromo people are the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia, and thousands have relocated to Minnesota amid an ongoing struggle for greater recognition by the Ethiopian government. Learn more about Oromo history at oromoculture.org.