Kenya keeps us busy!

Time for new blog post. I’d rather be quick, because I have to wake up 5:45 in the morning, as every morning. No complains. Coffee keeps me alive 🙂 Surprisingly, although Kenya is a big exporter of coffee, it is not the common hot drink here. There are only a few places (comparing to Europe) where you find good coffee and espresso machine, they usually drink tea with milk (obviously heritage from the British influence) or crappy instant coffee, however at our university, we are lucky.

Another weekend’s gone. This time spent in the nature. On Saturday, leaving at 6 am, a bit of a rush in the morning, as I fell asleep and woke up at 5:47 🙂 Cycling in national park Hell’s gate was very enjoyable, not sure when I have opportunity to cycle with giraffes, zebras, pumbas next time. After that, we spend Saturday afternoon and Sunday on safari game watching rides around lake Nakuru, you can see lots of animals from very close distance, the part that I don’t enjoy too much is that you cannot leave the jeep and walk for obvious reasons 🙂 But at least we had lot of fun in the jeep, but I haven’t seen any lion, so we had to pretend there is one – picture below 🙂

Three working days are over, we spent major part of the days at university. I enjoy working with my team. As you might have noticed in news, Nairobi experienced some issues with security, so we were worried if the lecturers – mobile apps experts would arrive (from UK and US) for this week workshop, but fortunately enough they came and they are doing great job. Students are working in teams on developing their mobile applications and business plans. I keep my mind pretty busy. And whoever says, that running away doesn’t solve anything is wrong, getting away from the usual place, work, life is like looking at my life in some movie, suddenly I see things I didn’t see before or from different angle. But haven’t decided yet if that findings make me happy or if I have to change something. I guess the other..  🙂

The lion secretly watching us

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Cycling in the Hell’s Gate

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Buffalo looking bored

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Andrew being a bit bossy 🙂

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Week’s over

Another week’s gone. I think it’s time to write more about me and IT, because I believe many of you think this is the most scandalous part of my assignment. We are responsible for delivery of 2 week workshop on cloud computing, specifically BlueMix and helping student to develop their ideas and possibly start new business in IT. I’m actually working with highly skilled people, or let’s call them geeks, who actually teach students. My role is more about organizing, I help with the group exercises, soft skills development and as well I’m the only girl in the organizational team – non IT- so you can imagine, there is a lot of fun made of me. I don’t understand majority of their jokes or I just don’t find them funny enough, which makes me boring nerd or slow thinker in their eyes 🙂 But I have to say,  IT world is slowly becoming very fascinating for me, I’m getting so many new perspectives. And majority people I work with are actually not the typical IT guys as you would imagine them. They take showers quite frequently, they dress quite smart and they are very good speakers. And they are surprisingly made of bones, muscles (little bit of fat) and blood and truly wonderful soul 🙂

Today, we went for visit to Jacaranda school for disabled children. I had so much fun, kids were amazing. Imagine 9 year old boy dancing electric boogie for me, I fell in love with him, he is the cutest creature ever! Their laugh and happiness is so infectious. I was more then happy to make fool out of myself to entertain them. Aaaand, we lost volleyball match with them, so now tell me, who is more disabled!

Today only really short post, did I ever mention, that I truly believe that everything happens for a reason?

 

Weekend’s over

Right, one week over, another one just started. Times flies really quickly.

Weekend was good, majority of group went on safari to national park Amboseli. I didn’t, we have another 2 visits of national parks planned and I wanted to allow myself just do what I want (not exactly what I want, everything has to be approved by our security guy) and get the flavor of Kenya. Together with me, Mariana and Tiago stayed in Nairobi – both of them Brazilians, very nice Brazilians and Luke – American boy who broke the American stereotype in my head, because he is quite adventurous and likes the off touristic places.

On Saturday morning, right after breakfast we set off to countryside 🙂 Plan was to visit the tea farm not far from Nairobi. It took us some time to get there, although it was only 30 kms far away and not too much traffic, we spent 2 hours on the way, because we got lost 🙂 But the view was worthy, tea fields all around us, everything green and when you open the window of your car you smell the fresh air after light shower. And pieace, only from time to time a local farmer on bicycle with a huge load and people picking the tea leaves with huge baskets on their backs spread all over the fields. We arrived to Kiambethu farm that was established by British family long time ago, when rail was built in Kenya. It is still owned by British lady-grandchild of the original owner, however the land they own is now much smaller. She welcomed us with cup of tea, milk directly from cow and homemade biscuits. Beautiful house in colonial style. Fiona explains everything about history and tea production. Then we were taken outside for a tour to look around garden, forest and of course tea plantation. The view was really beautiful and after we came back, Fiona awaits us with delicious lunch and homemade ice cream and whipped lemon cream, you can imagine, everything was served with British manners and a bit posh 🙂 We are heading back to Nairobi, we made a stop at the Masai market where we would like to buy some souvenirs. However as soon as we stepped in, there is at least 6 guys around us, touching us and wanting to guide us and talking to us. I got really nervous and there was no chance to get rid of them, they were following every step we made and wanted to sell us everything we looked at. We had to run away from there, not a place for me.

On Saturday night, we decided to get to know Kenyan culture from a bit different point of view – clubbing 🙂 When you imagine those videoclips where black ladies dance with black guys, that was exactly it 🙂 I danced whole night and seeing my Brazilian colleagues and all Africans around me, I realize how boring we- Europeans are 🙂 We don’t have that passion they have. For a while, me and Mariana felt like attractions – guys coming to dance with us and always wanted to take pictures of us. But the way they move, they can really enjoy themselves! Nevertheless, being decent, boring European girl, I decided 3 am is the right time to go home to bed 🙂

Sunday was just sleep in and preparing for the start of the workshop. Monday was difficult day, but we managed. It’s great to have colleagues from which you can learn, now it seems to me impossible to live without deeper knowledge of IT, I have to admit, their world is quite appealing to me 🙂 But at least I can be their tester of ideas, if Maria understands, everybody can understand. But I’m still not getting their nerdy jokes 🙂 Lot of work tomorrow. Lot of thoughts. Looking forward.

For a while I thought about how it’s gonna be back in Bratislava, I guess very difficult to adapt back. But as one of my friends keeps telling me, stop over-thinking and just enjoy yourself. I’m gonna do that 🙂

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Day – whatever it is, I lost the track

It’s Friday night, just came “home”, listening to Edit Piaf that my brother has posted on FB and I guess it’s right time to write after some time of being “silent”.

The working week is over, and I can only repeat, that this program is very very intense experience I’m getting. I have felt desperately, happy, excited, melancholic, self confident, unsure. Our project is in progress, starting on Monday- we are going to deliver workshop around developing applications on cloud and big data for around 80 students and developers. So now, you can guess why I’m kind of distant from my comfort zone 🙂 We work on Strathmore university I described in my previous post, it’s pretty cool campus. We have a lot work to do, but don’t worry, it’s not me delivering those technical sessions, we have experts from IBM for that. We mainly cooperate with the iLab Africa, that is a research center within university.

So our everyday routine is wake up at 5:45, get dressed, get breakfast, spend 30-40 minutes in traffic, get to university, do business, get the taxi from university, spend 1 hour in traffic, get home, go to gym (no running or walking outside area allowed) get dinner, talk to team, work a bit get sleep 🙂 But there are those moments when you meet dean of faculty at the cafe and spent 15 minutes talking about Kenya, when you talk to female students of IT faculty and their dream job is being a coder. When you meet a Bernard, the research assistant at the university, who is by far the best and nicest guy to work with. When you are waiting for taxi and little cute kids are passing by in their school uniform and they laugh at you because you are white and when you say “jumbo” they laugh even more and shout at you something (cheeky) in Swahili. When your colleagues from 11 different countries bring you presents and prepare caipirinha for you.

I’m getting a bit pathetic, so back to facts 🙂 My closest colleagues are Dominic – I very much enjoy working with him, he is calm person, very smart, great sense of humor and has a little teddy bear called Oliver who travels with him (and has his own blog-it’s for his daughter’s school) – I learn a lot from him. And the other colleague is HS from Singapore. Our culture is different and I sometimes struggle to understand what he is saying, but he is very bright guy. And one picture of us looking of course very professional 🙂 And that’s it for today, weekend is coming, so let’s see what it brings 🙂

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Day 4 – Pure impressions

Did I say yesterday, I had a lot of impressions? Now, I have even more.

We had our first presentation in front of our client today. But one by one.

As we are 4 subteams, each of us is working on different projects, but we go as a whole group to all the kick off presentations. First one in the morning was for Women Enterprise Fund, that is supporting women in their small businesses. We get off to their office early in the morning, although it’s not too far, it took us almost hour to get there because of traffic. I believe it would take us 20 minutes walking, however, we are not allowed. Meeting starts with the prayer, that was very unusual, they thanked to God that he sent us to them. Actually, I have to say, it was very nice and sweet from them, they always spoke about us as a gift from heaven. Establishing relationship and informal talks before you go to business is crucial in Kenya, basically, you won’t succeed without doing that.

Now, let’s talk about our presentation. As mentioned yesterday, our client is Strathmore university, its IT department has by far the best reputation in country and after the visit, I can only confirm. We arrived there, passed the security check (everywhere you go, even to shopping mall, you have to pass the security check, or two) and were immediately amazed by the facilities. Modern building, with hubs for students to work on their projects. I have to say, I was very nervous, my first thought was, jeez, we should learn from them, not they from us! University has established cooperation with many IT companies, they work on health, IT security and other issues. Students are mentored by businessmen. So the audience we presented to was the dean of faculty, director of iLabAfrica (innovation hub within Starthmore university) and other representatives plus students finishing their master degree. Our presentation went well. I have to say, I was impressed. Impressed by the university as such and by such a hunger of students for learning new things. I was completely borne away by a girls sitting there and talking about the projects they run to improve life in Africa. 21 year old girl asked us: “I have 2 applications developed, would you be able to help me build a business around it?” I was very surprised to hear, that almost 50% of students are girls (IT). And you should see the building. It’s build in eco style, once all the work is finished, it will be able to produce so much electricity from solar panels, that they can even sell it. They don’t use aircon, because the ventilation system is perfect and there is supposed to be a “waterfall” inside, that will cool down the building. We had a lot of chat with students and head of lab afterwards, so many thoughts I have to digest.

I was asking myself questions, why it doesn’t work this way in Slovakia? Every student has to work on either developing applications or real projects. How many 21 year old students work on their business plan? I’m sure there is couple of them, but why don’t we make our universities work this way?

Another learning point from today, I’ve just reminded myself something I’ve know for long time, sports really matters. After the day when you worked hard and thought too much, nothing helps your body and mind better than some sports. So whenever you can, move, your body and brain deserves it 🙂

One more question I’m asking myself today, did we come here to teach people something or did we come here to learn from them?…..

 

dinner ??????????????????????????????? zvieratko pres

Day 3 – pure facts

We have all arrived safely to Nairobi. I’m full of impressions. Everything is so far very quick, we have organized program by our local lovely lady called Sharon.

I was looking forward to meet the team I’ve been only hearing on the phone for the last 3 months. I have to say, I feel very good in their company, everyone’s so different (15 people from 12 countries) but we still laugh at the same things. You know that feeling, when you’ve just met someone and you feel like you’ve known each other for ages – this is how I feel.

A bit about Nairobi. It’s a very busy city, very fast developing. Everywhere you can see new infrastructure building. The traffic is very heavy, you can easily spend 4 hours in taxi from airport to our hotel, that normally takes around 20-30 minutes (experience of my colleagues). Walking alone not recommended. It’s very green, trees and flowers everywhere. And the sky, I love the sky, it’s exactly the same as in the Simpsons 🙂 I’ll write more about Nairobi once I’ll explore it a bit better.

Now about work. We are working on 4 different projects. My one is very IT. Those who know me can guess, how confident I feel in IT field and how much knowledge I have about it. Fortunately enough it is compensated by experience of my team mates – Dominic from Ireland and HS from Singapore, more gossips about them later 🙂 Tomorrow, we’ll have a first big presentation in front of our clients, which is basically a university – Strathmore university plus there will be people from Ministry of Education and Ministry of Information and Communication and representatives of various hubs. Cross the fingers for us.

Pictures are in progress, so far I cannot get my laptop read the memory card – that’s about my IT skills 🙂

I’ll post more about my impressions, just need to find the time to realize them and digest everything 🙂 Good night

Day -1 Am I ready?

Feeling butterflies in my belly. I’ve packed, unpacked, packed, unpacked, packed. Goodbyes and hugs with my dearests. Panic. Learning everything possible about IT stuff. Worries and excitement. Horalky for my colleagues.

I guess I’m ready, or not? Tomorrow is the day, going to Kenya for almost 1.5 month. One month assignment from my work – project for university in Nairobi and then traveling. What am I gonna learn? What are they gonna learn from me? Am I gonna be useful? Too much thinking, yep, that’s me.

Now I stop messing around and start looking forward for whatever is there waiting for me.