Tuesday, August 1, 2017

I Love My Job: Our First Comic Con

This says it all:

Yes, that is Ambassador of the United States to Kenya Bob Godec, cosplaying as Obi-Wan Kenobi, battling Darth Vader. My career peaked too soon; it's only downhill from here.

Seriously, working Nairobi Comic Con (NAICCON) was an amazing experience. We'd never been to a comic con before, even in the States. (Also, I'm really proud of this photo station I had made for the event.)

So what is a comic con? A comic con, or comic convention, is a convention celebrating comics, movies, video games, TV shows, and other aspects of nerd/geek culture. It started in the U.S. but has now spread all over the world. It's an opportunity for communities of fans to gather and for content producers and businesses in relevant industries to reach key audiences. It's also really fun. You can read more about comic cons here.

Why was the U.S. Embassy at Nairobi Comic Con? Comic Con brings together bright youth, representatives from creative industries like animation and filmmaking, and future tech leaders. All of those are groups that we want to reach out to and build relationships with, and we share many interests. Plus, most attendees are already interested in the U.S. thanks to our cultural exports like superhero comics and Hollywood movies. NAICCON was a great opportunity to share information about Embassy programs, exchange contacts, and encourage Kenyans to consider studying in or visiting the U.S.

I was excited to see (and get pictures with) cosplayers like the No-Face (from Spirited Away) above and the Finn (from Adventure Time) below! Because this was only the fifth time Nairobi had had a Comic Con, cosplaying is still just beginning to catch on here. At the same time, those who did dress up generally went all out on their costumes. I wish I could've gotten pictures with all of them!

This was the first program that I came up with myself instead of being assigned, and I'm so grateful my team let me go through with it! We somehow pulled it all together in two short weeks, which I'm told is considered plenty of planning time here in Kenya. That being said, I hope we can continue to participate in future years and make our booth even better and more effective with longer-term planning. I'll be around at least the next few times, so I look forward to participating again (with a better costume than a Captain America t-shirt and flag leggings)!

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