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.