Bethlehem Abebe Astella
Bethlehem comes from an ancient trade city in the eastern part of Ethiopia called Dire Dawa. Her interest in international relations and research stems from her previous experiences of living and working in a very different part of Ethiopia. With her strong passion for travelling and exploration, she ventured to Gondar, on the northern edge of the country for her undergraduate studies in Tourism Management. She grew increasingly drawn to natural resources in conservation and development, particularly after moving to southern Ethiopia and Hawassa University to work as a graduate research assistant. She worked for five years as a lecturer and researcher which exposed her to ground level challenges and opportunities facing conservation efforts in the beautifully diverse southern Ethiopia. By this time her personal and professional aspirations were bigger and she was looking for exposure to the outer world. She did her master’s study in Wageningen University, the Netherlands, in Leisure Tourism and the Environment. The focus of her thesis was on natural resource conflicts in a contested national park in the central rift valley of Ethiopia. Bethlehem came to CSU as a visiting student during her master’s program. Her brief experience with CSU’s active and engaging setting was so inspiring that she was greatly inspired to come back for further study. Currently, Bethlehem is pursuing her Ph.D. in the Human Dimensions of Natural Resources Department, focusing on the relationship between human and ecological systems in Ethiopian protected areas.