Albus Brooks leads a trip to Nairobi, Denver's sister city
Denver has ten sister cities, each with its own customs and priorities. Among them is Nairobi, Kenya.
Big photos below.
City Councilman Albus Brooks, so much a fan of Kenya that he named his daughter after the nation, recently led a trip of Manual High School students (and one teacher), plus private sector businessmen and not-for-profit pioneers, to Nairobi courtesy of Engage 8 and Denver Sister Cities.
Nairobi has been Denver's sister city for 37 years; this trip was designed to solidify plans for a youth-exchange program primarily (though not exclusively) for low-income and minority communities and to strengthen Denver's business ties with Nairobi, specifically by importing Kenyan coffees and teas, investing in telecommunications and getting direct flights going from the U.S. to Kenya. (There are none currently.)
But Brooks also saw some immediate benefits for the students he took to Kenya.
"We at DPS have a low graduation rate, and so the focus has been a lot on reading and writing, which I think is smart," Brooks says. "However, I think it's imperative that these young kids see the world so that they can be able to dream, they can be able to think about what their purpose is, and they can know why they should even read and write, know why they should be committed to their academics.... We took these sophomores who were 3.0 students at Manual High School and they came back excited to be leaders in their community."
Councilman Albus Brooks and his crew.
Brooks believes Denverites could learn a lot from Nairobi residents. "They're entrepreneurs," he states simply. "Every day, all day, you will see the city is busy and moving with all these entrepreneurs going to their jobs, selling on the way to their jobs; they are always moving and getting things going. Here in America, we are much more corporate.... What I love about them is just this entrepreneurial spirit: 'There's a gift inside of me and I'm going to make that be my business.'"
Still, Brooks thinks that we have a lot to teach Kenya, too. "They saw a city council person, a CFO from Level 3 [Communications], which, by the way, is investing millions of dollars in East Africa, and high school students sitting in the same room, and it blew their mind. So collaboration through sectors, a multi-sectored approach is what we called it, is something that I think...they don't understand yet, but could be very beneficial, and having efficient government and healthy businesses when everyone is working together."
Councilman Brooks across from Prime Minister Odinga.
Page down to read more about Albus Brooks's trip to Nairobi.