This is my last week in Nairobi and I’m trying to make sure that I don’t leave any loose ends at work, as well as complete any last minute shopping and say goodbye to friends. The week is shaping up to be busy, but it will be fun, too with some interesting events.
Last Thursday, I went to the US Embassy to meet with a woman I had met in the Fall who is the head of Information Services. She wanted me to speak with her colleague about giving a talk about Knowledge Management and Competitive Intelligence. Going to the Embassy is always an adventure because most of your possessions are taken from you - cell phone, camera, hand sanitizer, lipstick - before you can enter the compound. Even my pen and pad of paper were considered suspect. I wish I had visited the Embassy library earlier in my time in Kenya as it is a beautiful space and is a full-service lending library. I had run out of good books to read and had been swapping with friends, but access to a library would have been terrific.
The purpose of Embassy libraries is not only to provide access to resources and services to Americans, but also to promote America to the local population. The library is open to the public, but in the case of Kenya, it does not attract a large crowd. When the Embassy was relocated to a suburb after the 1998 bombing, it made it relatively inaccessible to the average Kenyan. First, it requires many matatu rides that can be costly and time consuming. Secondly, the library is only open during Embassy business hours which are relatively short, closing at 4:00 pm on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday and ½ days on Wednesdays and Fridays. Makes me want to work for the State Department! Finally, the security process can be daunting even for the most law-abiding American, let alone a young Kenyan with a big desire to learn and little documentation to get him in the door.
It was decided that I would give a talk the following Thursday to a group of invited professional librarians, knowledge management professionals, professors, business leaders and members of the diplomatic corp. I have an entire morning to fill, but have been assured that it will be a lively group who will ask lots of questions so little preparation will be necessary - my favorite kind of speaking engagement!
On Saturday morning I went to an Indian marketplace where I was persuaded to have some shirts custom tailored. I’m not confident I’ll like them, and I have to remember to pick them up before I leave on Friday. On Sunday afternoon, I met a new Global Health Fellow who will be working in Eldoret, in the Western Province of Kenya. I also met my replacement Fellow at the airport on Sunday night and am getting her settled into her new job. The time is going fast, and I’m looking forward to returning home this weekend.