In 1984-85, the year of the famine that killed nearly a million Ethiopians, I was an undergraduate at Cornell. At dinner one night, other students started throwing food. And suddenly – shocking myself – I got up on a chair and I screamed, ‘Stop doing this! In my country people are starving!’ In that moment, I knew that I owed my country something.

Eleni Zaude Gabre-Madhin