Tag Archives: jessica posner

Odede ’12 and Posner ’09 Featured on Rock Center with Brian Williams

As I was flipping through the channels this evening, enjoying the waning days of my winter break, I was struck by a cardinal red flash that seemed eerily familiar.  It was, in fact, Kennedy Odede ’12, delivering his final address while a student to the Wesleyan community.  He, along with wife Jessica Posner ’09, were featured on NBC’s Rock Center with Brian Williams for their work building the Kibera School for Girls.

Footage aired from Wesleyan’s 180th Commencement, and featured Kennedy giving a big ol’ hug to President Roth. Video after the jump.

Chelsea Clinton is (arguably) a better journalist than I’ll ever be, so I’ll let her give you the details.

Odede to write book; waxes poetic with Wesleying about it

“I have been through a lot in my life, so I have a lot to say and remember.

Student. Activist. Organizer. Philanthropist. NYT op-ed writer. NYT op-ed subject matter. One-time hip-hop producer. One-time subject of would-be hip-hop producers. Campus personality. Pine street resident.

Kennedy Odede ’12 is a composite of all these things, on top of everything else that he is. But you probably already know this, if you’ve been keeping your eyes peeled and ears open, and most importantly, if you’ve been following this blog to any capacity. If not from us, then probably from the Argus, the university’s website, Idealist.org, or even your mother. An exemplary representation of why Wesleyan possesses the granola hopey-changey do-good public persona it does, Mr. Odede as a tale and a legacy has consistently been surging upwards in the public sphere. Continuing this trend is the recent addition of two more items to his ever-increasing list of descriptors: book author and book subject. Bouncing off a strong reception to Nick Kristof’s op-ed in the New York Times, he has decided to start working on a book about his life.

No surprise, really. After all, Mr. Odede is, in and of himself, a living embodiment of the rags-to-friggin’-awesome story (a popular variant of the rags-to-riches story). Born into toughness in the slums of Kenya, he fought for social justice all the way into his early 20s, which is when a college girl from Colorado – Jessica Posner ’09 – suddenly shows up, joins him in the fight for social justice, and then transplants him to Connecticut, USA, where he continues to fight more for social justice. The narrative also has a layer of romance; to put it in Nick Kristof’s words: “And one more thing to make the story perfect: In June, after Kennedy graduates, he and Jessica plan to marry.”

That’s a book waiting to happen right there, with some crazy-ass neo-noir film adaptation – written and directed by Charlie Kaufman (or more realistically, Sean Penn as financed by Bill Clinton) – surely to follow.

On Zach’s supreme command, we here at Wesleying got in contact with him to talk about it – and he was nice enough to send a detailed email back (including the picture up there). Read on?


Shining Hope for Communities, founded by Wesleyan’s own Kennedy Odede ’12 and Jessica Posner ’09, released a music video based on the song “I Can” by Nas. Check it out here:

Featuring the sassy, smart students at the Kibera School for Girls and the man himself, Odede. (Odede does it all… but who knew he could rap too?)

Directed and edited by Paul Horton, Peter Horton ’13 and Abby Horton ’11, produced by Max Perel-Slater ’11 and Nathan MacKenzie ’12, and written by Emily Weitzman ’14.

Word on the street is that Nas approves. If you do too, post the video on your Facebook or Twitter (#ksgICAN @Nas @hope2shine).

NYT’s Kristof on Odede, Posner, SHOFCO – lays framework for screenplay adaptation

This is probably old news by now (seeing as how it’s been flooding my Facebook feeds, no matter how weird-looking it is now), but Pulitzer Prize-winning NYT Op-Ed columnist Nick Kristof had a piece up last night about Kennedy Odede ’12, Jessica Posner ’09, and Shining Hope for Communities.

It’s a pretty short piece, and very sweet indeed – structured loosely as a way to let readers know where their donations have been shipped of to all this time, Kristof puts in its centerpiece the converging narratives of Odede and Posner that culminates in a good chunk of love and a whole lotta hope.

On this dreary, dreary morning that threatens to get only gloomier, this was sort of wonderful way for me to start the day. (For it has, indeed, melted my cold, black heart.)

Click here for the article.

Have a great Thursday, Weskids!

Power yoga classes


Your yoga needs are covered this semester.  Two weekly Vinyasa power yoga classes and one Kripalu yoga class are starting today (Sunday, 9/13): one run by Jessica Brownfeld ’10 through WesWell, and one by Jess Posner ’09, and Kripalu by Rachel Shopper ’10:

More details after the jump.

Wesleyan’s Kenyan Connections?

So how do you connect dumpster diving to Kenya to Wesleyan? Well, CNN today featured a great article about a New York chemistry teacher, Jude Ndambuki, who spends a good portion of his free time scouring local trash for scrapped computer parts to repair and send back to his home nation of Kenya. In return, he only asks that the schools that receive the equipment plant trees to help fight the massive soil erosion affecting the countryside.

The article reminded me about a friend of mine and recent alum Jessica Posner ’09. Along with  Kennedy Odede ’12, the pair have been spending their summer in Kenya building the Kibera School for Girls. Jessica’s thoughtful blog has been highlighting just how desperately resources are needed over there. As she describes handing out uniforms last week:

The highlight of this week was today when we distributed uniforms to all of our students.  For all of our students these uniforms were the first brand new clothes that these children have ever been given.  In addition, uniforms are the only clothes that most of our children have.  The excitement as 45 little girls tried on uniforms, traded sizes, swapped styles, and paraded around was incredible.  The happiness from parents, students, and teachers alike was simply uncontainable.

The Kibera School gladly accepts both financial and in-kind donations. If you can salvage some computer equipment or stumble upon a box of crayons, consider shooting Jessica an email at jessica@hopetoshine.org or checking out the Help Kenya Project. (For those going back to school, Staples has some ridiculously cheap deals like 1 cent notebooks that you may also consider donating, either to Kenya or a local school in need.)