The traditional music plays and children, some dressed in Ethiopian costume, perform a traditional dance: Raising and lowering their shoulders to the beat.
Like millions of other children in the United States, these American-Ethiopians are at summer camp.
However, this one is about maintaining their connection with their roots abroad.
They still have to keep their heritage – that’s who they are, and it will make them proud”
The camp, which is for about 35 children, is at the Ethiopian Community Centre.
It is in a regular office block on one of the main roads out of the US capital, Washington DC.
A 21-minute drive away is the grand venue where African heads of state and President Barak Obama are discussing US-Africa relations.
As the leaders try to negotiate a new phase of that relationship, the Ethiopian diaspora community is grappling with how it should relate to back home.
Estimates vary, but there are thought to be more than 200,000 Ethiopians in the Washington metropolitan area, by far the city’s largest and most visible African diaspora group.
While integrated into American life, many of them do not want to lose that connection and are keen for their children to know where they have come from.
“They are here in the United States, but they still have to keep their heritage,” says Hermela Kebede, who runs the community centre.
“That’s who they are, and it will make them proud.”
I speak Amharic, but English is my first language and I have more things from America”
In another room, the children are listening to an Ethiopian folktale being read in one of Ethiopia’s languages, Amharic.
It is part of the effort to ensure they keep up their language skills as well as learn traditional stories.
Eight-year-old Mikiyess listens carefully.
He left Ethiopia with his family when he was two and has some vague memories of what life was like there.
He clearly gets the message of the camp.
“You need to learn about your culture,” he says in a flawless American accent.
“Because you can’t just learn about another culture and think, ‘Oh, I’m from that culture’, you have to think about your old culture too.”
Jokes and ignorance
But asked if he is more American or more Ethiopian, Mikiyess is hesitant, but admits feeling more American.
“I speak Amharic, but English is my first language and I have more things from America. I have a portion of things from Ethiopia and I eat a lot of the food.”
He reckons that from just watching his mother cook he now knows how to prepare the traditional dishes.