Random Updates

Just posting a periodic update about AITI. This summer, they will be sending teams to Kenya and Ethiopia. I helped review the applicants and am confident that they will do a great job.

Unfortunately, funding is tight this year and AITI was unable to send a third team. Ideally, they would have sent teams to Ghana and Zambia as well. This is the downside of being a student-run program. They will be able to raise money next year and return to Ghana and Zambia.

Incidentally, online tax-deductible donations can be made through the MIT Giving website. Search for "AITI" of "Africa", or enter fund #2720970. Employer matching information is available through the web site.

In personal news, I am completing my PhD this spring and have taken a job at Google in California in the fall.



Course Materials

I've posted the AITI course materials from Kenya 2005 on my personal website. These will probably be put on OCW sometime in the future.


Strathmore Article

This article about AITI was posted on Strathmore's web site.


Dwindling Blog

Mr. Chepkurgor needs to talk to the Masai warrior we met at the mara. That will set his head straight about Chelsea.

Anyway, since I'm done with teaching AITI, there's not much to post on here anymore. I might post a Kenya or AITI related link once in a while. Thanks for reading.


Strathmore Group Photo

This was taken after our graduation ceremony at Strathmore.


Last Day

Today's my last day in Africa. I'm in Zanzibar waiting to make a connection through Nairobi, back to Boston via London. I might take a layover in Europe for a few days but am still on the wait list for a later London-Boston flight.

It's been a great time. Teaching was both challenging and rewarding. I've really enjoyed living in another country for a longer period of time, rather than just visiting. I'd like to thank a few people who made it a pleasurable experience: Manish Gaudi, the AITI president, Mr. Khaemba and Mr. Mwanga from Alliance High School, Bett Benjamin and Catherine Ngugi from AVU, Farnaz Haghseta from OCW, Tobias from Strathmore, Eric Mibauri from AITI and Eric's family in Meru, Jack Costanza and Frank Tilley from CSAIL for donating computers, Matt Papi for helping configure Linux on the donated machines, the Stanford MBAs who sent us sample business plans for our entrepreneurship component, Timbuk2 for donating bags to our team, and everyone else I forgot to mention.

Also a big thank you to all the donors to MIT-AITI who made this possible and to the AITI officers.

Congratulations and thanks to all of our students at both Strathmore and Alliance.

Finally, thanks to the AITI-Kenya team: Bilha Nyambura Ndirangu, Curtis van der Puije, Robert Leke, Zahir Dossa, and Marta Luczynska.



I made it to the beach in Zanzibar. It's amazing. There's no water or indoor bathrooms where I'm staying, but they have an internet connection. Last night I went to the full moon party and had a blast. I'll be here for another night before I go to Zanzibar town, and then back to Boston.



We finished our courses at both Strathmore and Alliance and held graduation ceremonies. It was a lot of fun, and we goofed around with a lot of students afterwards. Team Meja won the business plan competition with their Kenya Creations business plan. Their idea is to export high-quality Kenyan crafts to the American and European markets, while guaranteeing fair compensation for the craftsmen. They won a cash prize of $200 dollars that we hope they'll use as seed money.

We couldn't agree on a second place team, so split it between the Home Boyz and Conscociatus. The Home Boyz had a plan for building clean pay bathrooms in Nairobi. Their presentation was hilarious, especially when they discussed their two-tiered pricing structure for "long haul" and "short haul" visits. Conscociatus planned an online directory specializing in Kenyan businesses. It is very hard to find any information on Kenyan businesses on the internet, as most don't have web sites. Even just basic information like phone numbers or addresses is hard to find online. Each team received a $65 cash prize.

The OCW students also presented their final projects. They were given an open-ended design project and encouraged to build on existing open source software projects. One group came up with a nice GUI network chat room combined with a media player. Another group designed an MP3 player capable of mixing tracks. There were also some database projects, other media browsers, and a statistical simulation package.

Zahir gave a great, funny graduation speech about some of our episodes around Nairobi. Prof. David Sperling also gave a fantastic speech about the impact of the MIT-AITI program and how its self-empowering philosophy should be a model for other development programs. Strathmore's Dean Clementine gave a short speech poking fun at each of the MIT lecturers. I was "always composed" and "very serious", but "would relax when you gave him a Tusker Beer".

We took a lot of pictures with the Strathmore students which I'll post when I get a decent internet connection.

We also installed an OCW mirror at Alliance high school. Zahir installed another one at Aga Khan university earlier in the week. I think the Alliance students will make good use of it, especially since they can work through almost all of MIT's first year courses.

We're all going back to Mombasa for the rest of the week. I'm going to go on to Zanzibar and will likely spend the weekend there. It should be very fun and relaxing.


Homeboyz, Longombas, and Kleptomaniax

We tried to get one of the Homeboyz to be a guest entrepreneurship speaker on the last day of class, but it fell through at the last minute. He said he didn't want to deal with Strathmore's dress code, but that was probably just an excuse to back out. It was a bit of a longshot to try to get Kenya's biggest rap producers to come speak at a university that sells Opus Dei books at the front desk.

That night, we had dinner at the Carnivore. I'm not sure how many types of animals I ate. I know there was some ostrich, camel, and warthog in there. There may have been some giraffe, zebra, or other game as well. It was tasty stuff.

Afterwards we went to a record release party for the Longombas and the Kleptomaniax that was being held at Carnivore's club. The Kleptomaniax have a hit song called "Swing" that we've heard about two billion times since being here. We invited our Strathmore students to join us, and subsidized part of their cover charge. It was a blast. Apparently, the place was packed with Kenyan hip-hop celebrities. Of course, I wouldn't have recognized any of them, but we've heard some of their songs.

Last night, the Alliance students came over to our apartment for Kenchic chicken and to watch some movies on our LCD projector. We played them some American music videos and showed pictures of MIT and Boston. They sang us the school fight song before leaving.



Here's a lioness and half a gnu from Maasi Mara. I posted a few other lion pictures below.