Today’s guest post comes from Bethlehem “Betty” Gronneberg, who grew up in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She graduated with a degree in computer science and statistics from Addis Ababa University, and met a friendly North Dakotan named Ronald Gronneberg while working at the Ethiopian branch for the United Nations. The two were married and moved to Fargo in 1998, where Betty experienced snow, or “falling cotton from the sky,” for the first time. Now she is a software engineering manager at Intelligent InSites, and has just published her first book, The Alphabet takes a Journey: Destination Ethiopia. Here she shares her thoughts on transitioning to a new culture, and how she sees self-publishing as an entrepreneurial experience.

The Pursuit of Belonging

In the same universe but what seems like a galaxy far, far away… seventeen years ago, an alien with a heavy dose of light pigmentation and a humble heart came and swept me off the coordinates of my birth, Ethiopia.

That is how I landed in Fargo, North Dakota, which has remained my home ever since. Packing all that I am in a suitcase, and starting over in unfamiliar culture was not a small fit. Far from it. Leaving behind family, friends, and everything I had grown to love was excruciating. But I believe in the power of new beginnings.

I believe we all have to get out of our comfort zone in order to grow. Bridging the chasm between two worlds is where most immigrants dwell.

Enriching Lives through Story Telling

I grew up listening to traditional oral stories, narrated by our elders. As children, we would quietly gather around the storyteller, ready to listen and watch the action wide- eyed. Captivated, we would become as the characters in story slowly take forms and come to life aided by the magical transforming skill of the storyteller.

Betty book

Rilee Wiste (right) and Asher Wiste (left) read Gronneberg’s book.

My love for books must have emitted from it. I love how beautifully written books transport me to places of intrigue.

I have always wanted to write a children’s book. Add to that a great desire to share with children my wonderful experiences of growing up, and the idea to publish a book was born.

I started with what I know and titled the book: The Alphabet takes a Journey: Destination Ethiopia. I wanted to take children on a journey through Ethiopia that truly taps into all their senses. I sent the English (technically Latin) alphabet as the guest and the Ethiopian letters (Amharic) as the host. The letters of each languages form friendship, explore unique cultures and find similarities.

Entrepreneurship: The Art of Self Publishing

Publishing a book, no matter how you do it, is an entrepreneurial experience. The true essence of entrepreneurship can be encapsulated in these words: define, invest, build, and repeat. Regardless of the product, service or market, it is the inherent urge to identify a need and fill it.

It is the spirit of seek and solve, to make a difference in the world. As a professional software engineer, these are all topics that are familiar to me.

After exploring a couple avenues, I discovered that I was the one I had been waiting for. So I gave myself a permission to dare and have the audacity to embark on an adventure – self-publishing.

Bettys Book

The journey of self-publishing is not a straight path but if you are a natural self starter, loves to learn, and are good at researching and collaborating with other talented people who have the expertise you don’t, self-publishing is for you.

You’ll have more control over the book but you will also have a significantly more work to do. Taking an idea nobody has heard of, finding a market for it and launching it to your target audience with successful ratings is a rewarding experience.


Photos courtesy of Betty Gronneberg.

Readers can learn more about the book and reach the writer at

Posted in

Marisa Jackels