Hope College delivered a world class education foundation that continues to power my career and this effectively changed not just my life but the lives of many people close to me. My first daughter Nia was delivered by an amazing Hope College Alumnus (Dr. Catherine Chen) and all three of my children happen to have a wonderful Nurse (Amanda Damon) that is also a Hope College graduate. Even as my family and I embark on a new venture with Kikwetu Coffee Company, it is very clear to me that the seeds for this organization were in fact planted in Hope College.
Journey to Hope
When I joined Hope College in 1998, I experienced everything that you would expect a 19 year old Kenyan that had never left the country to experience. First, there was the absolute optimism that comes with experiencing beautiful Holland, Michigan in the Fall. The beautiful fall sunshine was soon replaced by gloominess and soon I was dealing with the coldest weather I had ever experienced. Things also got busy, hectic and sometimes overwhelming as I wrestled to manage grueling class schedules, on campus jobs and culture shock. Through all of these challenges, I received a level of support and care that I have never forgotten.
Fried International Center
Irrespective of the challenges that I encountered, Fried International Center was the 'Home Away from Home' that always seemed to make things better. Because of my experience at Fried international Center, when I think of Hope College, three word come to mind: Global, Connected and Invigorating.
Invigorating. This was a place we retreated for renewal after long days of school and work. We came and drank tea and coffee. We had energizing conversations with extremely caring students and staff about everything. There were caring and knowledgeable advisors that helped us navigate every possible type of challenge. We were able to slow down and recharge.
Global. This was a truly global office. It was the meeting point for students from all over the world as well as globally curious Americans - Divya from India, Radika from Srilanka, Prakash from Nepal, Badiane from Senegal, Julie from France, Atallah from Cypress and many more. All kinds of languages were spoken here- Spanish, French, Swahili, German, Japanese and more. I got a world class education and appreciation simply through the friendships we fostered and stories that we shared here.
Connected. One of the things that I deeply treasure is the deep friendships that I cultivated. Because of Fried International Center, I have close friends all around the world. But Hope College did more, it also connected me to a local host family. This amazing family has been a core part of my life since that time.
Kikwetu Coffee Company is a family owned company built for globally curious coffee and tea lovers. We have a mission to Awaken your senses through high quality coffee and tea, personalized experiences and impactful events. Meeting my wife Martha was definitely the catalyst for the launch of Kikwetu. My extraordinary Hope College experience serves as the inspiration for our core pillars:
- Invigorating - Your coffee and tea should always be a delightful experience. Whether you are at home, at work or in a coffee shop, you shouldn’t have to tolerate an unpleasant beverage simply to get through your day.
- Connecting - Real connections between human beings matter. Coffee and tea when properly unleashed have a unique power to connect, and empower individuals and communities around the world.
- Global - We shine to our brightest only when we seek out and celebrate the best from the diverse people, cultures and stories that surround us. Differences between cultures should be highlighted and celebrated.
I will always be grateful for my time at Hope College. This experience transformed my life and those of many people close to me. With Kikwetu Coffee Company, our hope is to create an organization that the greater Hope College community will be proud of.