Kenya Education for Employment Project 7 – As a female engineer, I feel very grateful to have participated in the KEFEP project as I have been passionate about promoting engineering to girls for many years. Our objective for this visit was to help guide Kenyan colleges in the challenge of increasing enrollment of females in STEM programs.
One of the events being held during this visit was two days of workshops in Nairobi with approximately 40 staff/faculty from 10 Polytechniques from around the country. In the months prior to the visit, our NSCC team prepared for the workshops through regular meetings, creating marketing guidelines and an outreach events guide, preparing several presentations, and organizing a hands-on activities demonstration what can be used for outreach.
The workshops were a lot of fun and I personally learned so much. It was great to work with the faculty and staff from the colleges (you don’t get that as a regular tourist). I learned Kenyans are very welcoming and friendly, have gorgeous teeth, are very well educated, change their hair often, have similar issues as the rest of the world with attracting and maintaining women in STEM, speak better English than I do, have “tea time” several times per day, and love to dance. Upon review of the workshop Conga line video, I also learned how bad of a dancer I am! Our team of four had lots of laughs while trying to gather workshop materials… who knew it would be such a challenge to track down hair dryers, pebbles, and soil!
During our visit, our team also traveled to Mombasa, located on the Indian Ocean, for meetings. We attended meetings with Kenyan Coast National Polytechnique (KCNP) to assess mentorship needs for women in their STEM programs. KCNP leaders indicated that their main issue is finding employment for the women. The outcome was a written proposal for a Mentorship Pilot Program that will focus on testing a mentorship initiative for women in STEM programs working in industry.
We were in Mombasa over the weekend as well so we managed to have some touristy fun: camel ride on the beach, snorkeling, Karaoke, and monkey watching.
We flew back to Nairobi for our final few days. We met with Kenya Technical Trainers College (KTTC) about partnering with them for a possible future mentorship program as well. KTTC indicated that their main challenge was retention of women in STEM programs. The outcome was a KTTC Mentorship Event Pilot that will occur during an open house day in which female students will be paired with alumni mentors.
During our stay in Nairobi we were fortunate to see some of the sites in the city. Luckily we did not have to drive ourselves, the Nairobi traffic is scary. We visited a giraffe sanctuary and getting a kiss from Ed the giraffe was a highlight! We also spent a wonderful hour with baby elephants at the elephant orphanagein Nairobi National Park. On a sad note, we also drove by the Kibera slum where a half million people are living in terribly poor conditions; so heartbreaking to see. We are so fortunate in Canada.
I really enjoyed the food in Kenya as most of the meals involved meat and potatoes which made this Newfoundlander a happy gal! Now the meat was often goat, but hey, it tasted a lot like moose so all was good. The East African coffee was delicious as well.
Thanks for the memories gals. And thanks to NSCC International for arranging a mind opening experience.