A mission trip to Africa changed Vidas Kulbis’ life.

Rebecca Rusiecki, Staff Reporter

Sophomore Vidas Kulbis is definitely familiar with other cultures- from the September of 2008 to the August of 2009, he lived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Addis Ababa, the diverse capitol of Ethiopia has a population of about 3.5 million people, with close to 80 different languages and nationalities.

The Kulbis family moved to Ethiopia in order to learn how people in different cultures live.
While living in Addis Ababa, Kulbis had to make a few changes to adjust to his new life. Though Addis Ababa is a growing industrial city, Kulbis says it was very different from the US.

“The biggest adjustment was the lifestyle. We were living with no car, sometimes no electricity, sometimes for up to five days straight. I have many memories of doing homework with a candle as light. We also had no oven or microwave. In Africa, you live only with what you really need. It was a whole different world to us,” said Kulbis.
Despite this, Kulbis enjoyed many things about life in Africa.

“The positive factors were the friendly people, beautiful countryside, the simple, laid back lifestyle and the exotic wildlife. We also had the opportunity to tour many Ethiopian landmarks and see the rich history and beautiful landmarks. We also took a vacation to Kenya and took a safari,” said Kulbis.

While in Ethiopia, Kulbis and his siblings attended the British International School, where he enjoyed meeting people from around the world, many of whom he remains in contact with.

Kulbis has many memories from Addis Ababa that he looks back on fondly.

“I started and ran a scouting program at my school. We were on a camping trip in Semien Mountains National Park when a pack of about 30 baboons started passing through our camp. Baboons can be vicious, but they’re not an unusual sight, so we didn’t pay much attention to them. They were probably hungry because they started trying to pick at our food. Eventually they were so bold that we had to pack up all our food in a big crate. We surrounded it and made loud noises to scare the baboons away. They must have known some RB football plays because all of a sudden, one made a daring charge, and we all went to block the charging baboon from the crate. Then another baboon ran from behind and grabbed and football-carried a grocery sized bag of food away. So, the whole pack managed to run away with our lunch,” said Kulbis.

The Kulbis family moved back to the US in September 2009, as they had only planned in staying in Africa for about a year.

Now that he’s back in the US, Kulbis enjoys participating in a variety of activities, including soccer, basketball, Model UN and playing the violin.

“Africa and the United States are very different places. It really gave me a new perspective on the world,” said Kulbis.

This feature is part of our “Every Student Has a Story” spotlight.  We believe every student at RB has an important story to tell, and we’re committed to getting as many of them told as possible.  Look for new additions regularly.