This summer President Obama did something no standing U.S. president has done before–he went to Ethiopia. There’s a reason for his decision. He was able to speak to the African Union, headquartered in Ethiopia, meeting with 54 national leaders. He was able to press for freedom of the press and fair elections in Ethiopia, where many journalists have been jailed according to human rights organizations. Ethiopia is the second largest African country (in terms of population) and the one with the largest military. It is threatened by al-Shabab incursions in the south, coming out of Somalia. President Obama was able to speak with regional leaders about this concern and the larger concern of destabilization in the neighboring nation of South Sudan, where rival tribes are locked in conflict, causing a huge refugee crisis. All of this is good news for a region of Africa that needs to be connected to the outer world and in open dialogue about vital issues.