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Dispatches from the Moth · Posted On: Apr 16, 2019

Global Spotlight: Meet our Instructor, Kendi Ntwiga-Nderitu

by The Moth Staff


After a vigorous selection process, the Global Community Program selected and is currently training six alumni of the program to become personal storytelling instructors and also forge relationships and partnerships with local storytelling organizations in their communities. This first cohort comprises of individuals from Africa and Asia with each undergoing robust training to become Moth workshop co-instructors and potentially lead workshops as well. 

Among our new instructors is Kendi Ntwiga-Nderitu, a strong believer in the power of sharing experiences and spends a substantial amount of her time listening to, watching, crafting and sharing true life stories. She is a woman in tech and works full time running Africa Regional Business for Global Tech Companies. She is deliberate about spending time with her family and enjoys their company the most.

How has your relationship to storytelling changed since you first participated in a Moth personal storytelling workshop?

KN: Talk about growing hundredfold! I had never realized how powerful a tool storytelling could be. Whenever I have listened to a speech and felt drawn to it or moved to act, I realize it is because the speaker chose to tell it as a personal story. I have therefore also adopted a storytelling approach whenever I have an opportunity to present any information that requires attention with the audience or action thereafter.

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Congratulations on your exciting Harvard admission! Can you tell us how you heard about the mid-career master in public administration program and what you hope to gain from it?

KN: Thank you, it is such an exciting opportunity for me. The Harvard Kennedy School invited me to a student-led application session in August 2018 in Nairobi. You see, I knew about this particular program in the year 2013 and made a mental note to work towards transitioning from private sector to public service. However, I never had a solid plan of how to go about the transition but opted to take it a day at a time. It is not until I got acquainted with The Moth that I got the opportunity to be placed right in the middle of organizations and individuals engaged in public service, people pushing the SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) agenda through their different initiatives and engagements.

Each interaction I had with The Moth left me challenged and I often felt like I was not doing enough -- like there was still so much left uncovered in our continent of Africa and that there was a need for me to plug in more actively and make a difference. I particularly remember returning home in July 2018 [after I had been part of The Moth personal storytelling workshops in collaboration with the Aspen New Voices Fellowship] and getting back to my private sector life of pushing for top-line and bottom-line achievements. This left me feeling so void and empty. I mean, how could I be content in just pushing for profits in an environment where as much energy applied in service would realize much more for the society?

Attending the [Harvard] session clarified a number of key things. The time also felt right and so, come [November] 2018, I submitted my application for admission to Harvard’s mid-career master in public administration program and the rest, as they say, is history. I must say that The Moth played and continues to play a critical role in my transition to public service and I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to serve with you.

How do you see storytelling being a part of your professional life?

KN: In a big way, storytelling is already part of my daily life. I use it to start my events when I am the host, these events have as little as 10 people and as many as 200+ people. I have trained different people on the importance of introducing stories to their life, people involved in lecturing or funding missions. I have used storytelling to help communicate the life of a woman in science, communication that has landed better with the audience and has seen the participants involved have more relevant and real questions asked as the participants mentor other women to join and stay in science.

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What's one thing that you experienced recently that particularly excited you?

KN: My son will be turning six in June this year. When I travel we like to have FaceTime calls and we both look forward to it. A month ago, his class learned about different time zones and continents of the world. So while traveling to New York and Delhi, he was able to fully comprehend the timezone aspect. . . . The fact that my environment was different than his truly amused him. That and the fact that I went to three continents (Africa, America and Asia) in two weeks brought great understanding to his classwork. . . . Sharing those moments with my son brought me such joy.

Click here to listen to Kendi’s Moth story.

The Moth’s Global Community Program develops and elevates true, personal stories from extraordinary individuals across Africa and South Asia. By honoring a broad range of experiences, we believe we can challenge dominant narratives, deepen connection, and create a more productive dialogue around the world.

Our workshops focus on the craft of personal storytelling, helping participants turn significant life experiences into compelling, impactful stories. Many participants apply their stories to advocacy and change-making work, addressing issues such as HIV/TB and gender equity.

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