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A Brief History

The Stanford Ethiopian Student Union was formed in the Fall Quarter 1997 with a stated purpose of collecting and disseminating information about Ethiopian history, culture, and politics in order to increase awareness about Ethiopia in the Stanford community and the Bay Area. The organization was first named SSUE, Stanford Students for United Ethiopia. SSUE was changed to its current name, SESU, Stanford Ethiopian Student Union in the Fall of 1999. Abel Bogale and Tseday Alehegn drafted the first constitution and co-founded the organization. The first informal meeting was called soon thereafter in November of 1997 and the following people were present to decide on the organization's official name: Liben Eabisa, Abel Bogale, Nesanet Abegaze, Yosef Kebede, Tseday Alehegn, Ribka Berhanu, Awetu Simesso, Begna Gebreyes, Saba Bireda, Admas Kanyagia, and Solome Lemma.

Abel Bogale served as the first President from Fall Quarter 1997 to Spring Quarter 1998. Nesanet Abegaze was President for academic year 1998/99. Ribka Berhanu served as the first Treasurer for academic year 1998/99. Abel Bogale was again named president for academic year 1999/2000, the year the group assumed its new name. Tenbite Ermias was Treasurer for academic year 1999/2000. Solome Lemma was elected as third President of SESU and is currently serving for Academic Year 2000-2001. Additional executive positions have been incorporated into the revised SESU constitution.

Since its inception in 1997, SESU has hosted several tremendously successful events that were attended by both the Stanford and greater Bay Area community. For 1999/2000 academic year SESU was named the recipient of the Stanford University Dean of Students Outstanding Achievement Award. SESU also received 'Program of the Year' Award from the Black Community Services Center.

The diversity in programming ranged from a fundraiser tribute to Tsegaye Gabre-Madhin, a world renowned poet laureate, to Pioneers Forum, an event that exposes the Stanford community to accomplished Ethiopians that are paving the way to scientific breakthroughs and making concrete efforts to advance economic progress in Ethiopia and elsewhere in the world. Additionally, SESU produced a video to celebrate African history as part of Black Liberation Month. SESU expanded this program by inviting Internationally acclaimed filmmaker, Haile Gerima to screen his film "Adwa: An African Victory." As a community service initiative, SESU held a college informational workshop for high school students in San Jose.

On November 27, 2000, SESU has invited Ms. Eleni Gebreamlak West, President and CEO of African Aids Initiative International, as the speaker for our 2nd Annual Pioneers Forum. Ms. West will share with the Stanford and Bay Area Community her work to combat the spread of AIDS in African nations.

The impact of these events on the Stanford community is far reaching. The 1st Annual Pioneers Forum resulted inthe initiation of a joint project between three prominent Stanford professors and Worldspace Corporation to deliver Stanford education via satellite broadcast to students in third world countries. The ability of SESU to raise over $12,000 in two quarters, the presence of a diverse audience, the collaboration of professors from multi-disciplinary fields on a joint project, the extensive media coverage of these events by the Stanford Daily and the Stanford Report as well as by the media in Ethiopia, all attest to the positive impact that SESU has made and continues to make on the Stanford community and beyond.