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Originally published February 19, 2009 at 12:00 AM | Page modified February 19, 2009 at 8:44 AM

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Students from Kenya visit Microsoft

A group of students from Kenya is visiting Microsoft this week to learn about technology. It's part of the company's Unlimited Potential program to spread its technology to the "next billion"customers.

Seattle Times technology reporter

The kids in the Moi Education Center computer club in Nairobi, Kenya, share time on the school's 40 computers with 1,400 students. They'll often come in on the weekends to get extra time with the PCs.

Wednesday, each of the students had one to themselves in a Microsoft classroom, part of a weeklong visit to the company that included technology classes and meetings with employees.

Waiganjo Chege, 9, was excited to see so many computers. At school, he gets his hands on one about once a week and his favorite activity is playing games.

Diana Kimuyu, 13, said she does online research for school and checks her Facebook page two or three times a week.

The visit to Redmond has changed the way the students look at technology and helped them focus on their career ambitions, said Philemon Chebii, principal of the school.

"Most of them want to be analysts, programmers or Web designers," he said. "... This really has given them a lot of confidence in working toward achieving their vision."

The Moi Education Center participates in Partners in Learning, an element of Microsoft's Unlimited Potential program.

Launched in April 2007, the program aims to spread technology — and Microsoft products — to another billion people by 2015, through education, encouragement of local technology innovation and creation of new jobs.

Kenya's IT sector, Chebii said, is geared more toward business people and university students. But technology is gradually making its way to younger people, too.

The computer club started three years ago. For much of that time, the students have been interested in visiting Microsoft, Chebii said. They made a contact through Africans at Microsoft to help fund the trip.

The students arrived last week and attended the company's Minority Student Day, becoming the first international students to do so.

They also visited Boeing, the Experience Music Project and other local attractions.

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But many of them said the lasting memory will be a trip to Snoqualmie Pass and their first experience on snow.

Benjamin J. Romano: 206-464-2149 or bromano@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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