Nfld. & Labrador

Professor becomes 'Corner Brook celebrity' after Kenyan documentary

Roselyne Okech is featured in the documentary series Daring Abroad on KTN, one of Kenya’s largest television broadcasters.

Roselyne Okech is featured in the television series Daring Abroad

Roselyne Okech, right, shows Kenyan television host Alex Chamwada, left, and cameraman Humphrey Odhiambo around Corner Brook in November. (Roselyne Okech/Submitted)

Many people dream of being a guest on their favourite television show, but few are bold enough to pick up the phone and ask to appear — especially when it involves convincing the host to travel 10,000 kilometres to see where you live and work.

But that's exactly how Corner Brook's Roselyne Okech, who was born in Nairobi, got a shot at being featured in the documentary series Daring Abroad.

People may not be aware of the challenges we go through while living abroad.- Roselyne Okech

Okech thought the program, which runs on the Kenya Television Network, is a great way to showcase the lives of Kenyan expats.

"A lot of people may not be aware of the challenges we go through while living abroad," she said. 

"So, I got in touch with [host Alex Chamwada], and I said, 'Hey, I'm daring abroad!'"

Never heard of Corner Brook

It's not the first time Chamwada has been approached by someone who thought their story was the right fit for his flagship series, which highlights Kenyans living in different parts of the world.

Okech is a professor who thought her life in Corner Brook was interesting enough to feature on a Kenyan documentary series about people living abroad. (Brian McHugh/CBC)

But Okech's particular circumstances stood out for several reasons, the host said.

"One, the location where she's working … I had never heard of Corner Brook," Chamwada said. "I'd heard of cities like Toronto, but I had never heard of Corner Brook."

In fact, while Chamwada has filmed Kenyans living throughout Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States, his trip to Newfoundland marks the first time he travelled to Canada for a shoot.

'I may need to move to Hollywood'

Okech, who has been teaching tourism courses at Memorial University's Grenfell Campus since 2008, is also the first university professor showcased on Daring Abroad.

Chamwada speaks with Okech in Corner Brook in November. (Roselyne Okech/Submitted)

"She was willing to tell her story and to do a comparison between the differences working in Canada and her experiences working in Kenya. So that was quite interesting," Chamwada said.

"For example, I found the online courses there in Canada that Roselyne is teaching, and then their facilities, are quite advanced in Canada compared to the facilities in Kenya."

Chamwada, right, and Odhiambo, centre, are greeted by Okech at Deer Lake Regional Airport. (Roselyne Okech/Submitted)

Okech's episode of Daring Abroad was partially shot while she was visiting Kenya in the summer of 2017, and completed when Chamwada and his cameraman visited Corner Brook in November.

The episode aired on KTN earlier in February, and Okech said she's pleased with the final product.

I liked that they could marry my two lives.- Roselyne Okech

"Because I go home [to Kenya] during the summer, I still have my roots back at home," she said.

"Canada is my second home. So I liked that they could marry my two lives to see that you know where I come from."

She's also happy with the response from friends and family.

"Yes, I'm a Corner Brook celebrity!" she said, laughing. "In fact, this morning I was thinking I may need to move to Hollywood!"

About the Author

Jonny Hodder is a journalist with CBC Radio based in St. John's.