I decided to interview Ory Okolloh from Nairobi who recently spent a few years in the states studying at Harvard. I met her at PopTech in Maine this fall, where she spoke with several other Africans on a panel…..it was close to her final days in the states.
She originally came to the U.S. to attend university and ‘become a lawyer.’ Overall, she found it to be a positive experience and says with a smile – “the American dream is alive and well….”
I asked her what she learned from her time here that she didn’t think she would and her response was interesting, but not surprising.
Says Ory, “I learned to appreciate the things that I took for granted about Kenya, such as the food and the great Nairobi weather. (poor girl was stuck in Boston during her stint – a drastic weather shift)….She also learned to appreciate the value of nurturing and mentoring others…
“What’s most important is having people surrounding you who really believe in you. Finally, I discovered I was black…race had never been part of my experience in Kenya so I had to learn to adjust to that here.”
In terms of her Harvard experience, she said that it took her awhile to get used to the fact that she actually ‘belonged there.’ She believes that both her education and life experience have resulted in a stronger belief system, that she can do ‘anything if she puts her mind to it.’
On her five year goal, she says, “I hope to get paid for I love to do, to be in a place where I can make significant contributions to my country and continent, and to make a difference in the lives of others in the same way that others have done for me.”
Ory has since returned to Nairobi.
Renee Blodgett is the founder of We Blog the World. The site combines the magic of an online culture and travel magazine with a global blog network and has contributors from every continent in the world. Having lived in 10 countries and explored nearly 80, she is an avid traveler, and a lover, observer and participant in cultural diversity.
She is also the CEO and founder of Magic Sauce Media, a new media services consultancy focused on viral marketing, social media, branding, events and PR. For over 20 years, she has helped companies from 12 countries get traction in the market. Known for her global and organic approach to product and corporate launches, Renee practices what she pitches and as an active user of social media, she helps clients navigate digital waters from around the world. Renee has been blogging for over 16 years and regularly writes on her personal blog Down the Avenue, Huffington Post, BlogHer, We Blog the World and other sites. She was ranked #12 Social Media Influencer by Forbes Magazine and is listed as a new media influencer and game changer on various sites and books on the new media revolution. In 2013, she was listed as the 6th most influential woman in social media by Forbes Magazine on a Top 20 List.
Her passion for art, storytelling and photography led to the launch of Magic Sauce Photography, which is a visual extension of her writing, the result of which has led to producing six photo books: Galapagos Islands, London, South Africa, Rome, Urbanization and Ecuador.
Renee is also the co-founder of Traveling Geeks, an initiative that brings entrepreneurs, thought leaders, bloggers, creators, curators and influencers to other countries to share and learn from peers, governments, corporations, and the general public in order to educate, share, evaluate, and promote innovative technologies.