Kepler community attends Car Free Day: Planks, reflections, and the Kepler spirit

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We caught up with a group of Kepler staff and alumni at Car Free Day in mid-January. Amidst high-spirited cross-fitters and a (slightly intimidating) karate team, our Kepler community powered through ab work and stretches, all with smiles on their faces.

Check out their reflections on exercise, mental clarity, and the Kepler spirit:

Sylvia Uhirwa, Director of External Relations

What motivated you to come out to Car Free Day today? 

I love Car Free Days — and keeping fit! It’s so much fun to exercise with other people, especially when it’s the Kepler community. I love to see everyone happy and eager to be fit, and I feel good when I exercise. 

Do you feel the Kepler spirit today? 

Definitely. From the people who attended today, I could tell they wanted to see each other and work out together. They were so excited, and simply happy. 

Every time we saw a Kepler alumni, they stopped by; there were so many of them!

It’s so amazing! Former students and staff — so long as they see our t-shirt, they’ll shout, “Hi, Kepler!” It was fun to see them — even general Kepler fans — wave at us, stop to say hi, or even do the same exercises we were doing. 

Why is exercising important, especially now during COVID? 

People are feeling down right now, so this is a chance to be open, express yourself, come together with loved ones, and release tension and stress. And an event like Car Free Day is important because people can connect with a cultural tradition we’ve done in the past. 

How was the Kepler spirit displayed today?

I observed teamwork, constant learning, empowerment, and innovation. As you can see, the culture of Car Free Day has changed. We don’t have a single coach, and we can’t enter the stadium, but we can really see the Kepler spirit shine through. Everyone was ready to lead, to become a coach. We were constantly learning from one another; leadership became flexible, and we all took turns being leaders [during the workout].

What’s your message to the Kepler community? 

Stay hopeful. Continue to be courageous during these challenging times. Know that we can always adjust, so that we continue to live out our dreams and goals. 

Brain Ndoli, Kepler alumnus cohort 2013

What motivated you to come out to Car Free Day today? 

When you participate in sports, not only do you become physically fit, but you also work on your mental stability. Sports are helpful for relieving stress.

Do you feel connected to the Kepler community? 

Of course! Kepler is in my bloodstream. 

What is your current job? 

I work in the migration office as a case officer. I’m proud to be a Kepler scholar working for the government, because the Government of Rwanda is one of the best governments in Africa, if not the world. I’m motivated to add my strong Kepler skills and knowledge to the country. Kepler students are on the road to building this country.

What’s your message to the Kepler community?

Even after leaving Kepler, you’re still part of the community! When Kepler calls, we show up, because it strengthens the Kepler family and makes you proud to be a Kepler scholar. 

Karoli Kolokonyi, Director of Careers and Alumni Affairs

What motivated you to come out to Car Free Day today? 

Car Free Day is an opportunity for me to do collective exercise with other people. When we’re working and staying at home, we need to take time to go out, stretch, and take in the fresh air. And, of course, I get the benefit of exercise! 

How does exercise relate to Kepler’s balance core value? 

Of course we need to work, but it’s also important to take care of ourselves. This is an opportunity for me to participate in sports, which is part of maintaining my health. For example, today is Sunday; tomorrow I’ll go to work really fresh. I’ll be focused, with a high level of concentration, because I participated in sports. 

Do you feel the Kepler spirit today? 

Yes! This morning, I called everyone I knew that was coming. Right now, all our work is remote, so we might miss our coworkers or the physical presence of people. But through sports, we come together and connect. (Not to mention, sometimes, if you exercise alone, you may be demotivated. But when you get out here and see all these people exercising, you’ll also be motivated!) 

What’s your message to the Kepler community? 

To the students who are about to graduate: many are worried about the pandemic and employment. Be optimistic; organizations are still hiring! Keep an open mind, because if you stop trying now, you may miss an opportunity that you should have taken.