Getting Ready for African Adventure with UBC Sauder Africa

I’ve been preparing for my trip to Nairobi this August. I’m going with UBC’s Sauder Africa (SAI) group (@UBC_SSE) and local Nairobi partner Strathmore University. This group has been teaching Business Planning, Accounting, Marketing, and Development on the ground in Nairobi for over 5 years. I got involved with the program a few years ago to support them with developing brand new businesses and entrepreneurship. This will be my first trip with them.

Where in Nairobi?

Here is my Nairobi Map in Google.

We’ll be teaching near the slums of Kibera (bottom left) and Mathare (top right). This will be the first year that SAI will not teach in the slums. They’ve decided that they’ve had enough of “no bathrooms” during the teaching day. We’ll be staying pretty central (near the tent icon) and will be close to Strathmore University and local tech incubator iHub. For days when I’ll need contact with “home/escape”, there is a golf course nearby.

Unprepared For Slum Experience

I’ve been told by past participants that this is a great adventure. They’ve also told me that there is no way that I can prepare for the “experience” of walking in the slum for the first time. The sights, sounds and especially the smells all trigger strong emotions and feelings. Most participants don’t really “aclimatize” in the month. It’s that strong a feeling. This does create a bit of anxiety.

Slum Density

On the topic of Slum density. There is an estimated 250K people in the Kibera slum and it is roughly the size of four golf courses. ( when compared to adjacent Royal Nairobi Golf course). It is ironic that the poorest and richest are adjacent.

Culture, Weather, & More

We’ll also be having two trips during our stay. One will be to the Maasai Mara reserve ( i.e. the Serengeti) and the other will be to Mombasa .

I’m pretty keen to experience the music of Kenya. I don’t know what to expect. I’ve loved African music for a long time. I’m expecting to be amazed at how the youth mashup traditional drumming with synthesizers and group vocals.

The weather is supposed to be cool during our stay. This is kind of strange given that Nairobi is on the equator (1 deg South). The cool temperature comes from the 5,450 foot elevation.

Class Rooms

The classroom environment in the past has been a bit extreme. I’ve been told that this year we will be adjacent to the slums and not in them. Here is the Kibera classroom from August 2013.

School Room Door School Entrance Mathare

School Neighbourhood School Neighbourhood Mathare

Inside Classroom. We will have to pack in and pack out our materials daily. Anything left behind will be gone. School Room Mathare

Links to UBC Sauder Africa Initiative (UBC SAI)



  • SAI on Facebook — lots of pictures and videos
  • SAI Blog — lost of personal stories of the trip.
  • UBC SAI webpage — the donations page and “official” notes