Thursday, February 3, 2011

Blog in Swahili is... Blog

Some background... I initially applied to IBM CSC in 2008 for the 2009 assignment year. My application was rejected, which was not surprising given the selective nature of the program. More surprising was my acceptance the app I resubmitted 2009 for the 2010 year. Subsequent to my acceptance, I waited about 9 months for an assignment. This was likely due in large part due to my severe chronological constraints comprised of chagim, school schedules, moving to the suburbs, and a sprinkling of other landmines strewn across an otherwise inviting calendar. The assignment arrived just prior to Thanksgiving 2010 notifying me that I would be part of the 2nd IBM team headed to Kenya, or - in the blase lingo of the CSC - Kenya 2.

I immediately scoured the web for information on my predecessors' travels, finding a German woman to serve as an unsuspecting victim for my insatiable curiousity. After about an hour of instant messaging, I ordered Swahili CDs and a few Kenya tour books, and sat back and waited for the rest of the team to show themselves. We began to review preparatory materials and training in weekly conference calls which spanned the globe, with teammates drawn from the Eastern United States, Italy, South Korea, Switzerland, China, Canada, Hungary, Japan, and Denmark. Our destination was determined to be Nyeri, a smallish city or largish town north of Nairobi and historical locus of the Kikuyu, Kenya's dominant tribe.

Our projects were assigned to three subteams - ours taking on the President of Kenya's E-Government Directorate as our client. I could not have asked for better teammates, with Anna (South Korea), Luan (Switzerland) and Nimeesh (Canada) each contributing creatively and consistently from Day 1. Our task is to lay the basis a legal framework for Kenya's e-Government services, specifically in the area of data, as their new constitution (b. Oct 2010) has left them generally bereft of detailed regulation. Our customer, Dr. Katherine Wanjiro Getao, Secretary of Information and Communications Technology Secretary, is the first African woman to have earned a PhD in Computer Science. Her ambition, humor and energy were all apparent in our first phone call, and after speaking with her our spirits were as high as her expectations.

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