10 Years of Aiducation

Posted on 01/31/2017 at 11:41AM

Posted by Kerstin Hockmann, Aiducation Communications.

Aiducation was founded In 2007 as a community of volunteers in Kenya led by Jeremiah Kiponda Kambi connected with Florian, Kristin and later the entire Swiss team to battle low rates of students attending high school. The team started with no experience, no money, and no networks but they had a powerful mission.

At Aiducation we believe that education is the most powerful tool for sustainable development and prosperity for individuals and their societies. Looking back on the last 10 years of Aiducation, we are proud to have driven our mission into a compelling, successful concept and network of empowered future leaders in Kenya and the Philippines. We transform donor dollars and volunteer hours into a lasting impact through our strict focus on talented students in financial need, with a 1:1 donor principle and robust Civic Leadership development.

As we built our impact over the last 10 years, Aiducation became a dynamic global network of people passionate to improve not only living standards, but also opportunities in life through education. Today and every day, Aiducation International drives impact thanks to the commitment and motivation of our Aiducators, AiduMakers, AiduPartners and AiuFriends. Thank you!

Tags: Impact

"Realize Your Potential Academy" - the best way to end Aiducation year

Posted on 12/25/2016 at 12:06PM

Posted by Kerstin Hockmann, Aiducation Communications.

We have just had another “Realize Your Potential Academy” – this type of academy lies the groudwork of our unique mentoring program and aims at bringing together our AiduFellows at high school level. More than 80 AiduFellows met during the 5-day seminar and grew together with each other and our alumni coordination team. Matthias Meier, CEO Aiducation Switzerland, joined the academy as a Swiss mentor and shot an impressive video at the end of the academy. “I think the video speak for themselves summarizing the impact of this week for the participants but also for the families and communities these young people are coming from”, he shares. Enjoy the impact we are creating together all over the world and we wish you a wonderful Christmas and look forward to making a difference together in 2017!

Tags: Kenya, Academy

A lifetime of experiences in one week - Asante Sana!

Posted on 12/25/2016 at 11:29AM

Written by Monika Waber, Managing Director HR Swiss Re (slightly shortened).

On 28 November it was time again! En route to Nairobi for another Swiss Re Academy! Last year I had the privilege of hosting a Swiss Re Start Up Academy, at which I caught the Kenya ‘bug’.

Apart from being a year older (not wiser) something else was different this time round: I travelled to Nairobi to host the first Swiss Re Career Academy, which is a variation to our ‘regular’ curriculum of the Swiss Re Start Up Academy. The Start Up Academy is geared towards equipping the ‘Alumnis’ with knowledge and skills to start their own business. The Career Academy builds the second leg so to speak, that is it is designed to support the students in competing on the job market. The concept for this Academy was pitched to me by two talented students last year, during my time in Nairobi at the Start Up Academy. I thought it was a fab idea, discussed it with Gerhard Lohmann – the ‘birth father’ of our Academies – our Foundations, got support and funding! I recruited a team of fantastic colleagues to make this happen. We took a blank sheet of paper, sat on a green meadow under a blue sky (figuratively, not literally), brainstormed, put the curriculum together, designed the detail content, drew up slides, tested and trained our delivery and – almost a year and many iterations later – off we went! […]

So what did we do and experience…

Tags: Swiss Re, Kenya, Academy

London calling Part 2: The first meeting

Posted on 12/25/2016 at 01:11AM

Interview by Ben Burckhardt, Aiducator

A rainy evening in London – as usual during this cold season. On this grey Thursday night, Bryna, Lynda and Ben meet for the first time – a dinner for three which will be the beginning of our new blog series.

The girls have been in London for a few weeks working in the tax (Bryna) and the legal (Lynda) departments of Swiss Re. The place we choose for dinner was a burger restaurant which encouraged us to “Vote Rump” – just as the name of the restaurant. Throughout the evening, our conversation breached all kinds of topics – from working and living in London, over differences between British and Kenyan people, to Aiducation’s work in Kenya.

Ben: What did you think London would be like before you actually came here?

Bryna: I was not sure, but the picture I had in mind was of a very fast moving city with a lot of people under time pressure. This most probably is because I spent two weeks in Switzerland and back there, everybody is very concerned about time.

Lynda: I expected London to be really cold. I was here five years ago and it was already really cold then, so I expected it to be cold again. In terms of work life, I expected London to be very fast. To be honest, I was quite unsure what to expect, because I did not come here as a tourist or a visitor, but as a professional.

Ben: Now that you are actually here, how is London for you?

Bryna: Actually, London is just like Nairobi to me. In terms of the population it is very similar and the morning hours are just as busy as in Nairobi. I get the same feeling here as I do in Nairobi, namely that people are constantly under pressure to get to work and back home in the evening. For me the big culture shock came much earlier, when I moved from Mombasa to Nairobi. That took quite some time to get used to life in Kenya’s capital. There the difference was much bigger for me than moving from Nairobi to London.

Lynda: To me London is two steps faster than Nairobi. And yes, London is as cold as I expected it to be. What really surprised me about working in London is the sheer amount of bureaucracy. Although the UK it among the countries with the best technology in the world, it is still faster to top up your mobile phone in Kenya than here in London. Also, when you call to ask for a service, you sometimes have to wait for two days to get an answer.

Ben: Coming to London for one year is a big step. What was the main motivation for going on such an adventure?

Lynda: That is a hard question… Well, first I wanted to gain some international exposure. And I think London is a great place, because it is very cosmopolitan and you have a little bit of everything here. My boss is from Greece, my manager is from Switzerland and I am from Kenya. So you have people from everywhere. This gives me that international exposure I was after. Second, I always wanted to join the corporate world and do corporate law when I grew up. And it is interesting, because I am not just working for a corporate, but also for a big corporate company. So it is not just interesting for me personally, but it is also aligned with my career goals.

Bryna: For me it was very specific already when I did my application for Swiss Re. I knew I wanted to do something with agricultural insurance, because I was interested in this topic. So basically similar to Lynda, I see this as a first step in the direction of the career I want to pursue.

Ben: You have now been in London for three weeks. What do you like most and least about the city?

Bryna: What I like most about London is the great public transportation system. The tube system and the buses are very reliable and very convenient. You can actually count on them to arrive and take you where you want to go. Of course they are not as good as Swiss trains… (laughing) I hate the amount of smoking in London. In Kenya, people do not smoke as much as they do here and I seem to be passively smoking here quite a lot.

Lynda: There is a word that has become very popular in our vocabulary, both mine and Bryna’s. It is called “adulting”. For us this is the processes of growing up and being an adult. And I will give you the positives and the negatives of it. Positive for me is having moved out of home and come to a new place where I have to make my own choices. This includes paying your bills and all the other things you do not have to do when you are at home or not an adult yet. This whole process has given me independence to an extent where I cannot call on someone else to do something for me. On the flip side, adulting has been difficult because of the bureaucracy here. In theory you are getting paid by the company, but for that you need a bank account which I did not have. To get a bank account you need a national insurance number which I did not have as well. Also, without a national insurance number, you cannot get easy access to a doctor or rent a house. Organizing matters such as the ones I just described are tough, but are a necessary part of adulting and let you grow in the long-term. So on the one hand you are really happy that you get this chance to be independent and manage your own life, but on the other hand you just think of how much easier it would be at home where everything is taken care of for you.

Ben: What do you miss most about Kenya?

Bryna (without hesitation): The temperature! It is way too cold here. The temperature is always good in Kenya and it is something you always look forward to when you are abroad. Especially now that I am in London, I realize that I took the weather for granted back home.

Lynda: Many things. Food the most. As a foodie, you just have to miss food the most (laughing). And then obviously the people such as family and friends. There are many things. I certainly also miss the weather and the beaches.

Ben: Now it is your turn to ask me a question. What do you want to know?

Lynda: This is the first time you have actually met AiduFellows in real life. So far you have only seen profiles of AiduFellows online and read some stories about us. Now after having met us, three questions: 1) What do you think about Aiducation’s programme? 2) What do you think about the people? 3) What does it mean to you as a person?

Ben: In terms of the programme, I believe that what Aiducation has built up is something which actually adds value. Having grown up in a very comfortable and secure country, you do not always appreciate what you grew up with. Having worked for Aiducation now for a couple of months and now having had dinner with both of you, I can see the actual added value Aiducation has been providing. Considering that this programme has been running for less than ten years, I think it is fantastic what kind of impact it has had so far and what kind of doors it has opened for many, many people. Also the whole concept of working together with the Aidualumni and the different academies shows me that this is a programme focused on sustainability. And hopefully the programme will be continued so long that it will be common practice for every Aidualmni to support new Aidufellows when the alumni enter the workforce.

In terms of the people, I knew that Aidufellows were absolutely fantastic academically and intellectually. For me personally, being intellectual though is not always positive, because you might be lacking on the social side. So before meeting you, I was not sure what I should expect (big laughter from Bryna and Lynda), but now I can see that my fears were completely out of place. And I think that support by Aiducation successfully takes into account both the intellectual and the social side. Yes, academic scores are very important, but in the end it is personality which decides how successful you are in life. I am absolutely amazed at how well you have embraced the challenge London is offering you and I know for a fact that I had more troubles moving to Shanghai last year than you are having now. Well done for that.

The third question – what does it mean for me working for Aiducation? For me, this means giving back. I grew up in a household where I never had to struggle financially and where my family gave me all the opportunities I could ever have wished for. For me this is a way to have an impact and not just continue on with the career I have been following ever since joining university. What is really nice about meeting you is that I can now put a face to the work I have been doing. This creates a bigger emotional connection and increases the motivation to work for Aiducation. It has not changed anything in terms of why I am working for Aiducation, but much rather has reinforced my original motivation.

Tags: AiduAlumni, AiduTalent, UK, internship

AiduAlumna Marie Gene Cruz interns at a Swiss hospital

Posted on 11/27/2016 at 01:06PM

written by Nora Leonardi, Aiducator.

“I am in love and it has changed me forever”, Marie Gene Cruz, a Filipino medical student, says about her recent trip to Switzerland. Filipino medical student and Marie Gene Cruz took a life-changing trip to Switzerland this autumn: She briefly interned at a Swiss hospital and saw how much it matters to treat patients humanely, and to take the time to talk and listen to them. About to graduate next year, she is closer than ever to realizing her childhood dream of serving the underprivileged as a medical doctor and to be a responsible leader.

Growing up, Marie Gene never pictured herself assisting medical doctors in Switzerland. When she was 9 years old her father suffered a serious heart attack and he had to undergo a heart bypass surgery – this event became her main motivator to become a medical doctor. Because of the ensuing lack of funds from medical bills and her father’s inability to work, the talented student had to transfer to a public high school. In a typical Filipino public high school conditions are far from ideal: The classes are large, and sometimes two of them are held in the same classroom at the same time, the facilities are often old and teachers not trained well-enough. Luckily, Marie Gene got accepted in a public science high school, where the quality of education is better than in regular public schools. This is where she was able to join Pathways to Higher Education, a partner organization of Aiducation International since 2014. Pathways helped her both financially and academically, and, after finishing second out of her batch, to get into one of the top universities. Marie Gene graduated magna cum laude in Life Sciences at the Ateneo de Manila University and is now pursuing a degree in medicine at the University of the Philippines College of Medicine. She is also the first of Pathways scholar to have received a postgraduate scholarship. “Pathways has helped me to realize my potential as a student and my childhood dream of becoming a doctor. It is a family who keeps on bringing out the best in me, not just for myself, but for the Philippine society”, Marie Gene thankfully says.

Medical Internship at the Gesundheitszentrum Fricktal (Fricktal Health Center), Rheinfelden, Switzerland.

This past October Marie Gene had the chance to visit Switzerland for two weeks and to perform an internship at the Gesundheitszentrum Fricktal. “It was a much-needed and timely reminder of why I am studying medicine – to serve the underserved”, Gene says. She loved her day with the rescue services and was blown away by their speed and efficiency in caring for patients. Another of her cherished moments was the visit of the diabetes clinic: “I was getting all these jittery feelings of excitement when Dr. Birsen Arici allowed us to observe her patient consultations”, she says.

Tags: AiduAlumni, Philippines, AiduEvent, Switzerland, internship