The enduring love of Conrad L. and Joy J. Evans for Ethiopia
By Shaun Evans
August 28, 2013

Conrad and Joy Evans
Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Shaun Evans, the youngest son of Conrad and Joy Evans. I am a friend and associate of Mel Tewahade. and more importantly a friend of Ethiopia. I enjoy the distinct honor of having been born in Ethiopia in 1964 while my parents were assisting the Ethiopian government to build the Universities at Haramaya and Jimma. Although my life has been surrounded with stories and pictures of my parents and the other Oklahoma State University staff members who lived and worked in Ethiopia, I have never had the opportunity to visit this land of beauty and historical significance, until this year. I expect that it will be a journey of a lifetime and a memory I will never forget. I come to see the sites where Americans from the state of Oklahoma bonded with Ethiopians, and worked and lived hand in hand, for the betterment of each of their countries. I come to see the past, the present, and the future.

A short history of my father and mother, Conrad L. and Joy J. Evans.

My parents lived and worked in Ethiopia from 1956 to 1968. They were in Ethiopia as part of the U.S. Government's Point Four program established to provide technical assistance to friendly countries around the world who were seeking assistance in advancing their agriculture, technology, education, and economies. My parents were lucky enough to be part of that program which allowed them to spend the best 12 years of their life, working for Oklahoma State University, in Ethiopia, helping establish the Universities at Haramaya and Jimma.

My father, Conrad L. Evans, was already aware of Ethiopia, well in advance of his arrival there in 1956. Conrad's father, Russell, although a simple Oklahoma wheat farmer, had curiosity and wisdom. Regardless of living in a very rural area of the country, Russell subscribed to national newspapers and would read stories to my father. One story that made a lasting impression on my father and grandfather was the Italian invasion of Ethiopia in the 1930's. My Dad remarked on how strongly my grandfather felt about the Italian invasion. My grandfather felt that it was a great travesty for an industrial nation to attempt to colonize other countries and take advantage of their military superiority at the time. They followed closely the actions of Emperor Haile Selassie addressing the League of Nations. Their hearts went out to Ethiopia and Ethiopians.

Towards the end of World War II, Conrad joined the U.S. Navy at the age of 17, and was bitten by the bug of international travel. After World War II he returned to Oklahoma and attended Oklahoma State University, achieving a Masters Degree in Agronomy, on top of the many hours in civil engineering he earned while in the Navy. He married my mother, Joy Evans, in 1955. They were both teachers in Oklahoma while also helping to work the Evans family farm in Northeast Oklahoma. In 1956 my father and mother were recruited to join the Point Four Program in Ethiopia being managed by Oklahoma State University. Due to my father's wide ranging education and experiences he was given duties like no other staffer for Oklahoma State University. While his main duties were to be the physical plant manager of the Universities at Haramaya and Jimma, his contract simply stated that he would do whatever needed to be done. Thus he served also as an instructor in Agriculture, Mathematics, Social Studies, History, Geography, Industrial Arts, and Agricultural Engineering.

Conrad and Joy Evans immediately fell in love with the country of Ethiopia and the Ethiopian people, and chose to renew their contract working for Ethiopia 4 times, for a total of 12 consecutive years of service. Although some Oklahomans had worked a total of more years in the16 year program, no others worked longer, consecutively, than did my father and mother. My father was 29 years of age and my mother was 21 when they came to Ethiopia. They believed Ethiopia was a wonderful place to start and raise a family. They eventually had four sons, all born in Ethiopia: Brian Neal Evans (1957), Craig Collin Evans (1959), Conrad Kent Evans (1961), and me, Kevin Shaun Evans (1964).

Our family has always been proud of the work that was done by Oklahoma State University through the Point Four program allowing Ethiopia to have and to operate their own international higher learning institutions. We are proud that those institutions produced internationally respected scientists and professors such as Dr. Gebisa Ejeta and Dr. Tilahun Yilma.

Additionally my parents enjoyed Ethiopia for its stunning beauty and rich historical significance. They traveled and explored all of Ethiopia, taking their four sons with them. The experience was not lost on the children. Ethiopia has impacted each of our lives in a most positive manner.

After Conrad and Joy Evans went back to Oklahoma, when the Point Four project was finished, they maintained strong ties with Ethiopians. Conrad Evans eventually became Associate Director of International Studies at Oklahoma State University. His experience in Ethiopia allowed him to better assist students from all over the world. He always had a special place in his heart for Ethiopian students who came to Oklahoma State University.

In the early 1990's Conrad also was in charge of a reforestation project in Ethiopia operated through World Bank. He administered this project will still working for Oklahoma State University.

Conrad, as well as former Haramaya University President Clyde Kendall, was instrumental in keeping all the participants of the Ethiopian Point Four projects connected over the years after their return to the United States. They created an organization called the Oklahoma-Ethiopia Society. Membersí dues were used to provide scholarships to Ethiopian students attending college at Oklahoma State University.

Conrad and Joy Evans commitment to international education was recognized when they were awarded the highest honor given by the School of International Studies at Oklahoma State University. Conrad and Joy Evans were both made Henry G. Bennet Scholars in 2010. Link to story and pictures.

Conrad was also honored to have a story printed of his efforts in Ethiopia next to an article honoring the achievements of Dr. Gibese Ejita. This article appeared in the official magazine of Oklahoma State University called STATE. Here is a link to the online magazine where the articles appear. Dr. Gebisa Ejeta's article is in the light green areas and Conrad's article is in the light yellow areas. When you have clicked on the link, and the magazine appears in your web browser, you should navigate to frame 70-71 in the navigator below the shown pages. Here is the link to the story.

My father had several hopes for the future. He hoped that one day his sons would be able to return and visit Ethiopia, the country he loved and so fondly remembered. He hoped that Ethiopians seized the opportunities that higher learning and global interaction provided them. He hoped that the Unites States and Ethiopia would always be friends.

I myself hope that my visit to Ethiopia furthers my fatherís vision and dreams.

With sincerity, anticipation, and best regards,

Shaun Evans
(youngest son of Conrad and Joy Evans, son of Ethiopia) - An African-American news and views website.
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