First weeks in Kenya

July 13/18

The decision to travel to Kenya for an internship opportunity was an easy one. I’ve always aspired to travel as often as I’m able, to experience new cultures while developing my professional and personal skills along the way. I’m here to represent Canada and College of the Rockies as part of the International Youth Internship Program (IYIP) funded through Global Affairs Canada. I’ll be interning with the Institute of Tourism and Hospitality Management (IToHM) at Dedan Kimathi University of Technology for 6 months as the Eco-Tourism Business Officer. There will be two more interns coming in the future to work in the IToHM department as part of this three year program.


A bit about me:
My name is Shaylyn Robertson, and I’m a graduate from the University of Northern British Columbia. I received my Bachelor’s degree in 2016in Economics and International Studies with a minor in International Development. After my graduation, I received a year-long internship placement in local government, where I learned more about economic development and tourism. From there, I moved to southern British Columbia and worked a year at a local Chamber of Commerce to focus on business development, marketing and tourism. These two years of combined experience have prepared me for my new role in Kenya, combining my love for sustainable tourism with my love of traveling.
In my free time I go hiking, camping or play sports, and I love to be outside in nature as often as possible.

A bit about Canada:
We are a very multicultural country, welcoming people of all race, ethnicity and religion. Our population is approximately 36 million people, a relatively small number considering that Canada is the second biggest country in the world by geographic region. A large majority of our population lives within 100km of the United States border, leaving the northern regions of Canada sparsely populated. We have two official languages, English and French.
The most commonly asked question I have been asked so far is how our climate differs from that of Kenya.In Canada we experience all four seasons – summer, autumn, winter and spring. Winter is our longest season, lasting 5 – 6 months, while summer is our shortest lasting about 3 months. Winters can drop to -40 degrees Celsius in some regions, while summer can be as hot as +40 degree Celsius degrees in others. In the summer many Canadians will spend the weekends at the lake camping, fishing, hiking, biking and much more.

One other common question I’ve been asked by Kenyans is if we still go to work and school in the winter – the answer is yes! We dress warmly and our buildings are heated, so life continues as normally as it does in the summer. Just some of the winter activities you can do include skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and ice fishing. One major difference apart from the climate of summer and winter are the hours of daylight. Because we are located so far north, the hours of daylight we experience in each season differs greatly. On the summer equinox (our longest day of the year), the sun will rise approximately 4 am and set at 10pm. On the winter equinox (our shortest day of the year), the sun will rise at 8am and set at 4pm. We try to embrace each season as it changes, and adapt accordingly.

A bit about my hometown
I am from Quesnel, a town of approximately 30,000 people located in northern British Columbia – Canada’s western most province. Our region is home to a group of indigenous people known to English speakers as the Carrier. The region grew in population through the late-1800s as a result of the gold rush era, where miners and prospectors from all over the world came to try their hand at ‘striking it rich’ in Barkerville. Quesnel was used as a resupply stop for these miners, who needed to travel another 100 kilometers east of Quesnel to make it to the goldfields. Eventually the gold ran out, and the site is now recognized as a National Historic Site of Canada. People from all over the world flock to visit Barkerville, which is the largest living museum in all of western North America.

Article by:

Shaylyn Robertson
Eco-Tourism Business Officer
Institute of Tourism & Hospitality Management
Dedan Kimathi University of Technology