Kraft Fellows Visit to Nairobi, Kenya - 2023

Learning and exploring Kenya's religions, cultures, and communities. 

January 20, 2023

The Kraft Global Fellows Program is a joint initiative of the Kraft Family Fund for Intercultural and Interfaith Awareness and the Office of the University Chaplain. Fellows are selected to travel to one of the 10 Global Centers to work on a group research project focusing on the destination country's religions, cultures, and communities. The program's goal is to encourage students of different backgrounds and faith to learn from and with each other about their identities even as they learn about religions and cultures outside their familiarity. To enhance this experience, Columbia Global Centers | Nairobi, in collaboration with the Office of the University Chaplain, designed a one-week program for seven Kraft Fellows students in Nairobi. 

The seven fellows visited and attended religious services at AIC Milimani Church, the Nairobi Hebrew Congregation, Jamia Mosque, and the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Temple. To gain a deeper perspective of the Kenyan culture and heritage, the Krafts fellows had the opportunity to visit Bomas of Kenya and the African Heritage House. The fellows also visited Brookhouse and advised the students on the college application processes to Ivy League Schools such as Columbia. At Tunapanda Institute, the Krafts fellows socialized with ambitious youth who use digital programs to enhance their personal development and that of their community. They also had the opportunity to learn more about Kenya's digital revolutionary technology - MPESA, Kenya's elections, Chinese influence and the country's public health status during their visit to Kenya's oldest university - the University of Nairobi. The Krafts fellows also witnessed value-addition activities while interacting with local business owners at FunHomes Limited and Somo Africa. 

The experience proved rewarding - as Tao Long - a Ph.D. student and Teacher's Assistant at the Department of Computer Science at Columbia University, puts it: "Throughout the trip, I gained a deeper understanding of intersectionality and was reminded of my privilege, reinforcing my desire to take action and help disadvantaged communities. As a computer science researcher, I am passionate about increasing access to STEM and computer science education in other regions, particularly Africa."