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A short comment about IC…

25 Aug

I am currently at the AIESEC International Congress in Malaysia. A 10-day-meeting of the global leadership of AIESEC. We are nearly 600 delegates from around 100 countries.

This conference is a really great experience and I just want to write a very short comment and then go to the next session.

Inhaltlich gute Diskussionen, wir haben unsere global Partners (heute Artimisia, asia pacific CEO von PwC und Unilever) zu Gast fuer gesellschaftliche Themen und die strategische Ausrichtung des Vereins verspricht einiges fuer naechstes Jahr… planmaessig durchstossen wir endlich die 50,000!

Und einige absolut inspirierende Persoenlichkeiten, die nach ihrer AIESEC Zeit einen super Einstieg gefunden haben, die Gesellschaft “richtig” zu beeinflussen… social entrepreneurship haben wir in einem Workshop besprochen, zum Mittagessen sitze ich dann mal locker mit einem ehemaligen Australia CEO eines grossen Logistikers, der mir sagt, dass er mit 45 eine NGO, gegruendet hat, weil ihm “das business” zu dreckig war.

Spannend auch die Diskussionen mit AIESECern in ganz Afrika und deren verschiedene Realitaeten in Nigeria, Tanzania, Togo, Zimbabwe. Universitaetsstreiks scheint es in jedem Land zu geben, unglaubliche Erfolge in Members und Exchange-Zahlen, high-impact Projekte in Slums… Wir geben uns gegenseitig Ideen und planen gemeinsame Aktionen.

Von- und miteinander lernen steht hier gross im Vordergrund…

Do not miss to visit our live stream and be part of the conference:
http://www.aiesec.org/AI/iclive

Leaving home

22 Aug

A 19-day-trip to South-East Asia, attending IC, AIESECs largest conference, this year hosted in Malaysia.
Packing for a trip from my room around Thicka Road felt strange: It means that this is my home now… Interesting.

I am flying with my colleague Prashant. Three of my Kenyan friends drop me at the airport. Kenya Airways strike was fortunately over just some hours before our departure, still the queues of the passengers and plane resulted in a huge chaos at JKIA. I am in an unbeatable mood, looking forward to the trip: The probably most exciting day in Kenyas airindustry for a year and I am at the airport!

Only 2 hours delay (is this Kenya??), 11 hours of flight, then touchdown in a different world. Two days in Bangkok before going to Kuala Lumpur!

It is actually raining. Water is standing on the fields around the airport. A country where the rainy season still produces water from the heavens. Coming from Kenya we undergo a quick check at the health counter, as Europeans we enter the country without applying for a visa.

First impressions of Bangkok…

A huge city, stretching into all directions, skyscrapers, ghetto-like living areas. Highways with 6 lanes on two or three floors, traffic flows really nicely until we reach town. Exotic snacks are sold in the street. Thai letters look like artwork, chinese restaurants. McDonalds and Starbucks. Influenced from the India trip and movies, I expect some asian chaos and am not disappointed. Quiet clean though.

Telecommunication and transport is cheaper than in Kenya. Humidity and heat. Feels safer than Nairobi, 10pm, am walking alone. Tesco and Carrefour Supermarkets. Finally cheap drinking water (5 Bhat for 1,5 liters). People look differently: Not into your face, not on your hips. Polite smiles, not a “no” comes of the lips.

I find myself using my usual strategy for foreign countries: Smiling too (?) much, Stereotyping to prevent mistakes, trying to observe other people, laughing nearly hysterically about language problems, forcing myself not to compare.

Now I am eating Icecream, looking out of the window of our apartment at the 12th floor, feeling the heat, seeing the skyline. Am just a visitor looking in this so different culture. 2 Nights in Bangkok…

Eventful days!

16 Jul

On Friday we had our AIESEC Kenya Stakeholders Dinner, held at Safaripark with around 450 guests. It was really nice: Our members dressed up in formal and nice clothes, our alumni came, we awarded our best LCs, members and alumni for their contributions during the last year. (see pic)
The after party went until 6am and was simply awesome.

Then Saturday and Sunday I had trainings in various universities (Marketing Call Training on a playground, see pic), so was getting up early. Sunday afternoon we held our legislative meeting, it went for 4 hours (!!) and was quiet dramatical: The LCs did not pass our budget, we disbanded three LCs and opened four extensions. It felt good to see the discussion between the EBs and the MC because I could see we are all striving for the growth of the organisation.

After a long weekend I decided to have two slow days, just chatting with friends, doing very little AIESEC stuff, reading books and sleeping a lot. So on Tuesday I went back to my school. I was so happy to see the progress of the last three weeks: The toilets were completed and in use, some AIESECers had painted the school, money was raised and spent on fencing the compound, cementing two more classrooms and planting 22 trees. I just sat down for an hour, talked to the teachers, kids and another volunteer from Iceland. I arrived pretty much one year ago and it was great seeing all that progress that was achieved in 12 months only. (compare this picture with one of my blog entries from last year!)
Finally I was asked to plant one of the trees (see pic) 🙂

Then I helped a friend with low computer skills in applying for a position with the red cross. In the afternoon I held a short training for KU & Moi on personal growth by daring new things and stretching your comfort zone. This topic is quite close to my heart, as I realized that living in Nairobi is like being home for me now, daily life hardly challenges me anymore. So I felt we should discuss this in the whole group and set ourselves targets.

In the evening I went back to Donholm where I lived last year to visit a friend. It felt really nice to walk around and see the area again… Oh, they are still conducting police checks on Jogoo Road.

How many activities fit into one day!

Wednesday I went to Daystar, a university outside Nairobi in a beautiful scenery (see pic). This time there were no giraffes, just zebras and wildebees welcoming me. It is one of the most expensive universities in the country and they had just informed their students that they would raise the fees. So there was a Baraza, meaning around 1000 students asked the Vice Chancellor for answers. Unfortunately he could not explain himself in a satisfying way, so the students were really angry. We were just watching from outside (see pic). After around 3 hours of heckling at the officials, most guys left the Auditorium. Apparently the students were heated up and didnt know what to do with their anger and energy. So at the cafeteria they started throwing eggs and rice at each other… I wondered if those students will also go on strike, like at KU, but was told that for students of private unis this would be very unlikely!
So in the evening we had another AIESEC meeting, after which I stayed with one of the girls at her place for the night.

Happy Birthday, Thomas!!

Democratic or rebellious?

30 Jun

Yesterday I visited Kenyatta University, a public university with over 20.000 students, which has been closed after riots in March. We still remember the pictures of burning dorm rooms and police throwing tear gas on students on campus from TV with some students killed.

Right now there are no classes, the dorms are closed and students are not allowed to come. Students still pay their fees, but are not allowed to continue their studies right now. And the best part is that they are not even informed when they will resume (rumours vary from September to January). So they cannot do internships or do other courses in between.

That was all I knew before I went there. But the reality shocked me even more. The guards didn´t check us, so we just walked in and I took a 2 hour walk around the extremely large being shown around by an AIESECer. The campus, seeing the leftovers of the riots, the deserted dorms and the hundreds of closed offices. A beautiful campus being deserted. Talking to students, who don´t know when they will graduate or resume their studies. Hearing of students from the rural areas who could not leave campus and thats why suffered most during the riots. AIESEC KU without an office or the chance for recruitment. Quiet sad.

So today on the radio Hope FM was discussing the “current trend of Kenyans going on the street and expressing their opinion in an uncivilized manner”.

Primary kids going on strike, secondary kids burning dormitories, students rioting, hawkers fighting with the police, police threatening to have demonstrations… They claimed it is a bad thing and Kenyans should NOT develop a (western?) habit of expressing their opinions in public.

Funny.

My general feeling is that for the amount of problems (corruption, infrastructure, hunger, unemployment…) and miss there is not a lot discussion in public. People are rather busy solving their daily life problems and therefore do not spend much time on writing letters to newspapers or organize demonstrations.

The understanding of each other is quiet low. As soon as students discuss things that they do not like, somebody asks them to better return to the books than start thinking to much. The roles of women change a lot these days without the man noticing (?) or at least taking notice. It ends up with the police, which is asked to restore “law and order”, which most of the times means to enforce policies that were the introduced by the richer and do not favor not the masses.

In my opinion we need more open forums where people talk to each other and listen to opinions. Especially opinions of the young people, who are so many in this country. People should talk more to get to know the different realities and try to understsand why other people

Leadership

22 Jun

This blog entry can give you some insight in my work…

What is leadership? Who is a leader? And what is Manuela doing to develop leaders in Kenya?
There are probably more quotes and websites about leadership than sand at Diani Beach…

“Leadership is ultimately about creating a way for people to contribute to making something extraordinary happen”

or

“A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go but ought to be” 

In AIESEC we focus on developing leadership in students. We do not think you become a leader by holding a title. It is about offering a position plus an environment to learn and grow!

In AIESEC Kenya we have 24 young people on national one-year leadership positions for the upcoming year. Another 80 students are running the 9 Local Commitees around the country. Then we have countless Conference, Event and Project Organising Teams, where members can get short term team management experiences.

Part of my job is to provide that specific environment that comes on top of what other student organisations offer. So right now I am planning a leadership development seminar for 130 students in July. For all members holding a Leadership Role I am planning quarterly reflection and learning events. We are constantly trying to connect our members to people in the outside world as Mentors. With my Trainers Team I am looking at ways to include into learning on Kenyan/world issues into the weekly meetings of the members. These are some of my tasks.

Now how do we measure the outcomes of those tasks? This is where you can come in now with your opinion… How do we measure leadership in people?

The days are going by faster…

22 Jun

My last post is two weeks old… Am wondering where those days went.

I visited different universities, giving them ideas on how to work in a more efficient way. Then I started working with my group of students in my portfolio at the universities (VP TMs at the different LCs), and my Team responsible for Training in Kenya (NTT). Amazing people, in both of the groups. We are in the process of creating year plans, getting a good transition from the previous responsibles and getting to form our visions.

Most importantly am working on my own year plan and different support structures for the universities, called LC Coaching. And we have first applications for positions for internationals working inside AIESEC in Kenya! So am interviewing them, discussing hosting and their jobs etc. For example we will need help with expanding our network to new cities.

Below some random pictures from my school in Mukuru Slums, a workshop for VPs, the different teams I am working with.

Finally a video from yesterday´s LAZY afternoon with a friend. Just people watching from the rooftop of his house near Kenyatta University (wonderful: you can stare at people without them noticing you), including German and Swa lessons. Important questions were answered: How cold is a Tusker Baridi when you drink it in the sun? How long does it take to change a tyre? How many people does it need to fix a matatu? Will this guy really pee with you watching him? How many birds can you kill with one stone?

The days are going by faster…

22 Jun

My last post is two weeks old… Am wondering where those days went.

I visited different universities, giving them ideas on how to work in a more efficient way. Then I started working with my group of students in my portfolio at the universities (VP TMs at the different LCs), and my Team responsible for Training in Kenya (NTT). Amazing people, in both of the groups. We are in the process of creating year plans, getting a good transition from the previous responsibles and getting to form our visions.

Most importantly am working on my own year plan and different support structures for the universities, called LC Coaching. And we have first applications for positions for internationals working inside AIESEC in Kenya! So am interviewing them, discussing hosting and their jobs etc. For example we will need help with expanding our network to new cities.

Below some random pictures from my school in Mukuru Slums, a workshop for VPs, the different teams I am working with.

Finally a video from yesterday´s LAZY afternoon with a friend. Just people watching from the rooftop of his house near Kenyatta University (wonderful: you can stare at people without them noticing you), including German and Swa lessons. Important questions were answered: How cold is a Tusker Baridi when you drink it in the sun? How long does it take to change a tyre? How many people does it need to fix a matatu? Will this guy really pee with you watching him? How many birds can you kill with one stone?

Just a normal day

3 Jun

5.30: alarm bell
6.10: family gathering at the breakfast table, our lords prayer together
6.25: leave the house
6.35: word of the day: “tabasamu” (= smile)
7.20: arrival at unviversity
7.30: hooray, there is internet today!!
7.35: wow, we have three applicants for LC Coaches! answering emails, inviting trainers for saturday, reading the motions for fridays legislative meeting, budgeting for travelling costs…
8.45: internet is getting slower
9.00: taking the new volunteer to the school in south b
11.00: the newly finished kitchen looks really good
12.00: she seems to like the school, cool!
1.00: visiting one of the teachers at home, this baby is so sweet, only ten days old!
1.45: the neighbour comes visiting, asks for advice on how to care for three orphans of a friend
2.25: buying maize in the slums… lunch for 10 KSh only!
2.30: matatu back to town, “my president is black, my lambo´s blue… and i´ll be god damned if my rims ain´t too”
3.05: walking to uni, 29 degrees, am glad I used sunscreen
3.30: first interview for the LC coaches
4.30: second interview
5.30: wanted to go to comfort, but: RAIN! So I write the recommendations for the two applicants
5.35: someone is matched to go to Germany and needs advice for booking flights
5.30: meeting at comfort with the alumni manager, postponed for one hour due to rainfalls.
6.40: those goals are well set in the alumni year plan! adding some details and tasks
7.35: quite late. time to leave!
7.45: talking to members
8.15: my host brother comes from campus to pick me in order for us to go home together
8.20: meeting my MCP for the first time today: decisions about the review, discussions about general team feeling and leadership problems in one LC
8.55: due to the traffic (due to the weather) there are no matatus waiting for us
9.10: one matatu for 150 people, matatu price is doubled
9.55: dinner!
10.25: fixing my comp, discussing stuff with my host bro
11.25: this mexican soap opera is just crap
11:59: time to sleep…

Week 3 – 3 Stories

29 May

Football

Manchester vs. Barcelona in the Champions League finals. You should think nobody cares about this in Kenya. But the truth is that everybody talked about it and most young people watched it. So I went out to a bar in town. Driving home at 3 in the night (heavy rains…. who would have thought so) we had a puncture. I don´t know if that was due to the smashed bottles on the parking lot or the amount of people in that car. For the amounts of alcohol those guys had taken the tyre was quickly changed. Rule number one is to repair a flat tyre immediately (because “otherwise chances are high youn´t fix it at all”) so we searched a 24 hour gas station, repaired it and came home at 5 (totally rained on).

“Jana usiku gurudumu la gari lilitoboka.”

Recording Hip-Hop

One of my friends from last year called me and said that he records a new hip-hop album. So I took the chance to go to the studios with him on Friday evening. He and some of his pals recorded three songs for a mixtape called “Nai”. I was absolutely amazed how they played with the words, how melodic and yet so strong the kiswahili rap sounds.

“Mavijanaa wanapenda ngoma za Hip-Hop”

Camping in Naro Moru

A friend from AIESEC invited us for camping at his uncle´s farm in Central Kenya for the long weekend. So 12 internationals and 4 Kenyans packed their bags, climbed a matatu and we went towarads Mt. Kenya. We enjoyed ourselves cooking outside at the campfire, watching stars at night, playing teambuilding games, swimming in the mountain river, relaxing in the sun or hiking through the forest.

Our host explained us that the forest must be protected from deforestation to preserve Mt. Kenya as the major source of water for the country. On the neighbours´ land we witnessed illegal charcoal burning. We also had some sessions about culture: We exchanged stsories about living in Kenya and advised the newer interns and tried to put Kenya into the Iceberg Modell. Just an amazing weekend 🙂

“Ukitaka kuburudika njia moja ni kutoka nje ya jiji la Nairobi”

My second week in the Office

26 May

My first week in Kenya was mainly dedicated to Planning Conference. It took place in Namanga, a town at the border to Tanzania. You can see a nice video of the conference on youtube.

Back in Nairobi I decided to sleep in on Monday. During that second week of transition time I started visiting different events of universities based in Nairobi to meet the students and see their places.
I mainly focused on an upcoming conference in July, initiating the takeovers and planning days for all entities in the country and organizing a campaign to get internationals to support our local chapters (CEEDers).

And most importantly I finally got to know Emma, my predecessor. She is a very professional young lady, passionate about our members and the organisatsion and extremely tamu. We talk a lot about her year, my ideas and the realities of the different universities. She is fun, really nice and caring and gives me a lot of support. I am just wow 🙂 It could really be worse…

One more week until my probation period officially starts, five weeks until I have to run the show without Emma.

Emma and Manuela