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Kenya Impacted Me As A Professional And Human Being

Some of the skills I acquired are the art of crafting a concept note for project proposals, managing the application process for start-ups, project management, effective communication, and I learnt to appreciate the significance of meticulous attention to detail in ensuring the success of each endeavour. Beyond professional growth, the experience left an indelible mark on my heart; reminding me to embrace diversity and treasure the beauty of cross-cultural interactions in every aspect of life.

I have always dreamt of venturing abroad, seeking new experiences, and embracing diverse cultures. Driven by curiosity I decided to leave Italy for Kenya, Nairobi, to do a three-month internship at E4Impact, Entrepreneurship Centre. The experience exceeded my dreams.

I learnt so many things about Kenyan culture that I can’t even begin to count. I learnt to appreciate their food, their love for dancing and their simple way of living. I have witnessed the love Kenyans have for their Country and deep respect for nature. I immediately felt at home.

I felt welcomed from the very first time I arrived at the Entrepreneurship Centre and one of the most significant lessons I learned was how to navigate and adapt to a different work culture. Coming from a distinct background, immersing myself in a new environment was both challenging and rewarding.

Interacting with a diverse group of individuals at the Centre opened my eyes to the richness of cultural differences. Each interaction turned out to be a unique opportunity to broaden my perspectives and cultivate a greater appreciation for diversity. I quickly realized that open-mindedness and empathy were essential in bridging gaps and fostering collaboration among colleagues from various backgrounds.

Among the most cherished memories I will forever carry in my heart was the unexpected visit of the Italian President. Meeting him was an unforgettable moment that left me in awe. I found myself stammering as I shook his hand, overwhelmed by the surreal nature of the encounter.

During my internship, I witnessed the huge impact that the Foundation has on the territory thanks to the everyday work carried on by the Kenyan staff with passion and diligence.

At work, I found many friends with whom we shared moments beyond the office. I will be forever grateful to them because they offered me the opportunity to experience the “real Nairobi”. Two friends took us to the City Center and to local markets. It was super interesting to get the opportunity to deep dive into the local culture; one took me and my fellow interns to a market where there were so many hair salons I didn’t even know where to look. Another friend took us to walk around a neighbourhood near Thika Road; it was eye-opening – he showed us another side of the city. We wandered around the block to Kiambu County and the day ended with a very late lunch at a place I fell in love with because it was genuine. We had some Kuku Choma to share.

One friend invited us over to have a Sunday lunch; the love and effort put into preparing the lunch made me feel at home. Another colleague invited us to his traditional engagement party in Kericho County. It was a special moment shared with other colleagues that gave us the opportunity to see something completely different from our culture and made the 7-hour trip worth it. Throughout the duration of my internship, I had the privilege to engage in various projects, each offering valuable learning opportunities.

One skill I acquired was the art of crafting a concept note for a project proposal. Among the notable concept notes I worked on was the development of a certificate program in Impact Entrepreneurship for South Sudan. This project was done in collaboration with the Catholic University of South Sudan, aiming to foster entrepreneurship with a positive social impact in the region.

I also gained valuable experience in managing the application process for start-ups. Collaborating closely with the Incubator Lead, I assisted in overseeing the application process for an exciting project known as the “2023 AYuTe Africa Challenge Kenya.” This initiative is a partnership with Heifer International, and it focuses on empowering aspiring entrepreneurs in Kenya to bring their agribusiness innovative ideas to life. Throughout these experiences, I had the opportunity to sharpen my project management skills, foster effective communication, and appreciate the significance of meticulous attention to detail in ensuring the success of each endeavor.

My time in Kenya not only shaped my professional growth but also left an indelible mark on my heart, reminding me to embrace diversity and treasure the beauty of cross-cultural interactions in every aspect of life.

By Erica Marchesi,

Master’s Student at the Catholic University of Milan.

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