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Marjorie gets her story

It might not occur to everyone that a visit to the local market in Ethiopia would be a good place to sniff out an education story.

But one person's basket-buying opportunity can be another's crack at seeing a different part of what makes a country tick.

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Education writer Marjorie Coeyman was not on the job, but neither was she interested in shopping with fellow tourists, so she turned to a nearby child and asked if there was a school nearby. There was. So Marjorie walked three-quarters of a mile with her young guide, who introduced her to the principal. To say that he was surprised to find an American tourist in his office would not do justice to his reaction. But he generously chatted in English with Marjorie and then permitted her to sit in on a music class, where her presence produced much giggling.

The principal had barely recovered from this shock when Marjorie's official tour guide came running in, frantically looking for his lost charge. His source on her whereabouts: sharp-eyed kids, whom he had polled about which way the American woman went.

But Marjorie still didn't have enough for a story. Could she talk to some government officials?

The education minister wasn't around, but it turned out that Marjorie was heading home on the same plane as two officials who specialized in girls' education. So she interviewed them en route.

The school visit was a highlight of her trip. "I saw so many kids walking to school each day, clutching precious notebooks," she says. "It would have felt like a missed opportunity not to talk to them."

You'll find her story on Page 15.

*E-mail newcomba@csps.com

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(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society