Her Mantra: Learn, learn, learn, and LEARN!
In this episode, we meet Maryciana Adema, a multi-talented individual who defies stereotypes as a model, graphic designer, data analyst, and trained chef. Discover the unexpected steps she took to achieve success and her unique perspective on becoming a model.
Maryciana also highlights the significance of empathy in our daily lives, enabling us to better understand and connect with others. Explore the intriguing traditional practices of the Luhyas, offering a glimpse into their rich cultural heritage. Tune in for a dose of inspiration and a fresh
outlook on personal growth and cultural exploration.
This is the ninth episode under the ‘Shifting Narratives’ program supported by the British Council SSA Arts.
*For the best experience, please use a headset/earphones.
[00:00:28] Adrian Jankowiak: So Marynciana, thank you so much for joining on this episode and you're multifaceted, creative, you do so many things and so I'd love to really know... start from there. I know you are into fashion and that's something we're going to talk about. Where does that interest in fashion fit into everything you do more broadly?
[00:00:51] Marynciana Adema: So for me I feel that fashion basically is an expression of who you are and what you wear is always the first impression. That's what people always see before they even talk to you. So how you present yourself, it's your packaging. So depending on the event, depending on any occasion, how do you package yourself?
[00:01:11] So that's mainly my main interest in fashion and, and styling.
[00:01:17] Adrian Jankowiak: Oh, fashion is your packaging. That's really memorable.
[00:01:20] Marynciana Adema: Yeah. Yeah.
[00:01:21] Adrian Jankowiak: Did you hear that from someone or you, you came up with that?
[00:01:24] Marynciana Adema: No, I came up with that. It just came out right now.
[00:01:28] Adrian Jankowiak: I'm gonna, I'm gonna, I'm gonna tell people about that one. I'll make sure I credit you for that. Really cool. So, so you've worked as a model, you've worked as a graphic designer. How has that journey been into where you are right now in your career?
[00:01:47] Marynciana Adema: So, before I started out my modeling career, I had actually began my graphic design journey. So basically my graphic design interests began after high school when I was taken to a school to study how to use the computer packages. But I felt no, this is too basic, why don't I try something more interesting.
[00:02:10] So I went and enrolled for graphic design. And I found graphic design really
interesting because as a creative you get to express a lot of what you feel through art. So basically graphic design is art. And even before I enrolled to the graphic design course, I was also just designing by hand, drawing, painting, but my interest grew into, why don't I try something more digital?
[00:02:39] So basically, design for me is an expression of who you are as an artist. So in
the year 2020 during Covid, that's when I realized, why don't I try out modeling because I had so much interest in fashion and styling and I enjoyed dressing up. Just pausing and watching the models do their thing on the internet. So I decided, let me try it out. Because also I was also getting from friends and family asking me, why don't you try out modeling? And I used to have this perspective, you have to be really tall and slander to be a model. But I realized, no, you don't have to be that.
[00:03:22] Even to the designer, it's just a matter of presenting you, your personality of
who you are. So basically, for me I felt that modeling is just a personality. So that's why I decided, let me try out modeling. So that's in the year 2020 and yeah, till now I'm still in the journey of modeling.
[00:03:43] So as a fashion and commercial model. Yeah. And being a graphic designer and a model really working hand in hand for me, because I I get to explore a lot from the graphic designing bit and my modeling career. So when it comes to my photography, sometimes I don't even need the photographers to edit my photos. I do my own photos, I edit them myself. If I need to add any graphics on it, I do it myself.
[00:04:11] Adrian Jankowiak: That's really cool. That's very useful.
[00:04:13] Yeah, so really when and how did your perspective shift in terms of that models don't all have to look the same?
[00:04:21] Marynciana Adema: Okay, so in 2020, when I started out my modeling journey, I decided let me enroll to a modeling school. So I enrolled to Black Dust Modeling Academy, so that's when I met Ingrid Awuor. Ingrid Awuor is the founder of Black Dust Academy and the Nilotica Fashion brand, so she was my trainer.
[00:04:42] After we did our catwalk and all that, we sat down and she said, you don't
really have to be tall and slender. You don't really have to have that bone structure, that distinct bone structure, for you to be a model. You just have to bring yourself, you need to, to be very confident about yourself and what you are actually bringing for the client or the designer or anyone who wants to work with you. It's not necessarily you be... to have that. About your body or how you look, it's about your personality. So basically, for me, modeling is just personality.
[00:05:18] Adrian Jankowiak: How does that personality then come out in the shoots and through the clothes that you are portraying?
[00:05:25] Marynciana Adema: So how my personality comes out in the shoots and in all the gigs that I do is basically my confidence just being me, putting myself out there. I don't really need someone else to ride on so that I can be able to do my shoots or, or to be able to present myself or represent a brand. So that's fashion for me, how I package myself, how am I packaging myself? Because different clients have different perspectives. So you just have to be yourself when you are going to maybe audition or you are going for the shoots. You just have to bring yourself, package yourself as a model, package yourself with discipline, packaging yourself with your confidence.
[00:06:14] Yeah, that's all that speaks.
[00:06:18] Adrian Jankowiak: So now going back and touching maybe on some of your other interests. Did you see yourself in the past becoming a model? Is it something that you thought would happen or did you have other areas that you wanted to go into?
[00:06:32] Marynciana Adema: Actually, I never had interest of becoming a model. I actually had an interest of becoming a fashion designer.
[00:06:39] Adrian Jankowiak: Okay, so that's close then. So the fashion industry, as with every industry, needs lots of different people to contribute to its ecosystem, right? So at least you get to work within design and within fashion.
[00:06:53] Marynciana Adema: Yeah.
[00:06:54] Adrian Jankowiak: And you've mentioned as well that you're a writer and what do you write about?
[00:06:58] Marynciana Adema: I'm more of an existentialist, very philosophical. I am into self-care and self-actualization, psychology. So that's my main focus, focusing on just self-development as a human being. Seeing yourself as the highest self.
[00:07:18] Adrian Jankowiak: And I guess that fits in as well with your psychology and peace studies.
[00:07:24] Marynciana Adema: This is actually an interesting story. So I actually applied for design school. I applied to design school, the University of Nairobi, but I didn't meet their criteria. Because I told them, if my grades don't qualify me to do graphic design at a bachelor's level, why don't I go for a diploma? They declined that. So I decided, okay, let me go to the School of Arts the main campus in the CBD. So I went and enrolled for the Bachelor of Arts.
[00:07:53] Then interesting enough, you know, when you, you enroll, you have to take up three departments. I took up three departments. So from the three departments, what really interested me the most was psychology. It stood out for me. So I decided, okay, when I get to third year when you are doing our major, I'll go for psychology.
[00:08:13] I found psychology really interesting but along the way, peace studies was
becoming interesting because of the history, learning about the world history, understanding how the entire geopolitical system of the world works. So I decided, okay, let me just do a double major Psychology and peace studies.
[00:08:32] So that's how I landed doing the two courses.
[00:08:35] Adrian Jankowiak: Okay, so you managed to look at the micro and the macro from a big perspective on the planet, and then
[00:08:42] Marynciana Adema: yeah.
[00:08:43] Adrian Jankowiak: as well, and what, what did you learn?
[00:08:46] Marynciana Adema: So in psychology, basically the most interesting thing is the human behavior. How the human mind and the brain works. It was really interesting and my favorite unit was addictive disorder and family psychology. So it was, those are for the psychology bits. Those were interesting for me and for the peace studies, the most interesting was global issues and world problems.
[00:09:13] We come from very dysfunctional families. Our families are so dysfunctional and it's just a matter of you yourself deciding, I'm gonna break this. This is how I'm gonna shift my mindset so that I don't get end up getting affected by my mommy issues and daddy issues and my sibling issues.
[00:09:34] And also maybe the traumas that someone might have possibly had growing up. It's really shifted my mindset and at some point I'm always like, I'm not surprised when someone behaves a certain way.
[00:09:48] And for the Peace Studies, the Armed conflict peace studies. How I really
related to that is how the world really operates. It's not just about you and your country. No. You have to understand how the world operates, not just about Kenya. It's not just about whatever country you're from, you have to have a really wider perspective. And it's just given me that interest to at some point in my life visit other countries and understand their geopolitical systems and history, their economical backgrounds.
[00:10:25] So to also add on to that, I was able to grow my empathy levels, just putting
myself in someone else's shoes.
[00:10:32] Adrian Jankowiak: Let's start with the empathy part. How do you go about putting yourself in someone else's shoes?
[00:10:39] Marynciana Adema: Empathy is one of the most vital human skill because most of the time you don't know what someone is going through. You don't know where someone comes from. Like, uh, for example, right now, you might not know what kind of question that might trigger me, but how you are phrasing your questions.
[00:10:56] I'm gonna react and you'll just notice, no, this, she's not comfortable with
that. What if someone asked me that kind of question? You try to put myself in that shoe. So basically by me putting myself in someone else's shoes means I can be able to relate with other people on different levels. Not only my family or my friends, or anyone who I'm close to, even someone that I don't know, I can be able to relate to them on different levels, even at a personal levels.
[00:11:26] How do I end up making new friends?
[00:11:29] How do I end up getting a gig?
[00:11:31] How do I end up signing that contract?
[00:11:34] Or how do I end up gaining that other person's trust?
[00:11:39] I have to be empathetic towards this person. I have to understand that not
everyone has the same experience as me.
[00:11:47] Adrian Jankowiak: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Nice. Thank you. Thanks for sharing that. You also told me before that you're a trained chef, please enlighten me.
[00:11:57] Marynciana Adema: Yeah,
[00:11:58] so on the trained chef bit, actually I got trained. I went for the training in
the year, 2020. I was just at home actually at that time. I just go back a bit how I ended up taking up the course. So I was working with I B M and Accelevate Leads as a student intern.
[00:12:19] During that time we were just put in kind of a work environment. We were
actually almost 15 students. We went through a hackathon and all that. Then the team that I was in won. Then we were taken up by IBM. We were working from IBM offices. So we were basically designing our website for Great Places to School.
[00:12:40] Great Places to School is a competition for schools. The schools kinda compete in different aspects from STEM to STEAM and other extracurricular activities.
So we were designing the website and the app. When Covid came our project went out. So it died.
[00:13:00] And one thing about me, I am this type of person who really can't stay idle.
I'm a very hands-on person. So there's an organization called Elvis City Dreams. I was one of their AGYWs. So I went there and I told them, um, guys, I would love to volunteer for you people at this time because I have nothing to do.
[00:13:22] I just need to do something. So they went into the system, they found my name and told me, yeah, there's something you're supposed to do after you are supposed to do this course. After doing this course, then we can be able to allow you to
volunteer for us. So I ended up enrolling for hot kitchen and cake baking classes.
[00:13:42] Actually, the course took eight weeks then that's how I got my certificate in
being a train chef.
[00:13:50] Adrian Jankowiak: Wow, sounds like you are taking up opportunities to learn new skills and that's always great. So you mentioned Great Places to School. You took part in a website hackathon with IBM, and then you ended up going to do chef training. How did that all fit together?
[00:14:08] Marynciana Adema: The IBM and Accelevate program ended. So after it ended, that's when I took up the course because I had nothing I was doing and I wasn't doing anything and I just feel I had to be doing something. I'm a very hands-on person, so that's why I ended up with the hot kitchen and cake baking classes.
[00:14:27] Adrian Jankowiak: And so from all these skills that you've gathered, have you come across a situation where you may have picked up a skill somewhere and not realized that it's going to come in useful in this new situation that you've just been dropped into?
[00:14:42] Marynciana Adema: Yeah. Yeah. And especially the graphic design. That skill has really come a long way for me from the IBM team then at some point I wasn't doing my graphic design work. After I left Elvis City Health I joined UCESCO Africa as a volunteer, as the programs manager. We needed to do lots of advertisement and create event banners, create event tickets for the events. We used to have so many events with UCESCO Africa. So that's when actually my graphic design skills came in handy.
[00:15:21] So I was just, you know, you're, you're the graphic designer in this office,
kindly creates for as a poster, you're the graphic designer in this office. Kindly do you mind creating for us the event tickets. So it's really worked so handy for me in that area at UCESCO Africa, and also even with Ashoka East Africa.
[00:15:41] When you are creative, your creativity will always follow you on your back.
It's, it's always on your shoulder. It's never leaves you. You just have to be open enough to explore that area in you.
[00:15:53] Adrian Jankowiak: For sure. Yeah. And it's great that we can do that. We can be multifaceted creatives these days. Have you got other stories or, or things you've learned that you'd really like to share with the audience as well?
[00:16:07] Marynciana Adema: I think maybe you might have picked up while or during the conversation. I'm someone who loves learning. I'm a believer of learning every day. So I believe life is all about putting yourself out there and learning. The mantra is learn, learn, learn, learn and learn.
[00:16:25] If you wanna move forward in life, you have to be open to learning. It doesn't
matter which field, it doesn't matter what area you are gonna find yourself in. But when you are willing to learn you'll just find yourself moving along swiftly and sometimes you are surprised at what places you find yourself at.
[00:16:44] Yeah. Just learning, basically putting yourself in a learning position. Learning and learning. And learning and learning. Yeah. That's, that's just a mantra.
[00:16:52] Adrian Jankowiak: Yeah. It sounds like that's a really important mantra to you, and it sounds like you do a great deal. Why? Where did that come from and how do you manage?
[00:17:01] Marynciana Adema: So when I enrolled for Accelevate Leads IBM experience. I actually didn't know much about it.
[00:17:09] I just decided, okay, let me try this out. I went and funny enough, I was the
only students from the School of Arts. The rest were from political and, were from Computer Science, School of Sciences, School of Medicine. So I was the only one from the School of Arts and Social Sciences.
[00:17:28] So I really felt out of place. And at some point I almost gave up. So I decided, okay, why don't I put myself at a position where I don't know anything? The same way I joined campus, not knowing anything. Let me just put myself in here and blend in. Before guys knew I was actually a graphic designer, I joined the data analysis team. So I was basically doing the research analyzing data. So I ended up learning Python, SPSS, and those data learning tools. Then after a while I realized someone came across my CV.
[00:18:08] Then they asked me, you actually a graphic designer. Then I said, yes, I am a
graphic designer. So I was thrown to the graphic design team because the graphic designer was only one. So I joined him and we were the two of us. Then later on I was recognized as the best student of the cohort.
[00:18:24] That's when I realized, I sat down and I asked myself. I'm the only one from
the School of Arts? I almost gave up actually I just left the place and I told myself, no, I'm not going back to that place. Then someone just called me and told me, no, it doesn't matter. You just come back, you're actually doing well.
[00:18:40] So being recognized as the best student of the cohort really made me realize it's just not about where you are coming from, but when you put yourself in that position that you wanna learn you're gonna go far. Yeah. So that's when my learn, learn, learn, learn clicked.
[00:18:57] Adrian Jankowiak: That's I think great life advice. How do you keep up? It might sound to people like you do so much. How can I do so much? Is it just your drive or there's a particular way that works for you of organizing yourself or maybe prioritizing the thing you are you are doing right now?
[00:19:18] Marynciana Adema: It's all about also prioritizing. I always have a list of things that I want to achieve, so I start from the most important to the least, I won't say the least important. So I prioritize. I know this is what I'm gonna do today.
[00:19:34] This is what I'm gonna do tomorrow. I'm always keeping in mind every day I have to learn something new. But how am I gonna do it? I have to analyze my day first and I analyze my day after.
[00:19:47] So whenever before I go to sleep, I ask myself, what did you achieve today?
[00:19:51] What did you learn today?
[00:19:53] So what are we prioritizing next time?
[00:19:55] Where did we go wrong?
[00:19:57] How can we improve the experience?
[00:19:59] It's all about talking to myself and just telling myself to put myself out there, but at the same time even prioritizing my wellbeing because at some point I didn't prioritize my wellbeing and I ended up with a serious burnout.
[00:20:14] Burnouts are really are not the best experience anyone can have. So after that burnout, I realized, yeah, priority. Well, let me prioritize myself, my well-being. Then after that, look at your career. Where are you going at? Where are we at and also having that vision board.
[00:20:32] And also I have these sessions where I ask myself, what is working for you?
What is not working? Where should we improve? What is it that we can put aside? What are we looking to put aside? What is not helping you?
[00:20:46] Adrian Jankowiak: Oh, really great advice. That's the thing I'm taking away from this is definitely about learning about doing more things outside of your comfort zone as well. Are there new things you are planning for this year that you'd like to share?
[00:21:03] Marynciana Adema: For this year, I'm looking at getting into content creation.
[00:21:07] And also I'm looking forward to maybe at some point if, if this, God willing,
and I'm praying so hard travel outside Kenya, go somewhere and just, yeah, just anywhere outside Kenya. Just learn culture. Just understand how do these people work?
[00:21:23] How do they operate? Yeah.
[00:21:25] Adrian Jankowiak: Great. Travel is one of the best ways to learn about the world I've found, and try to understand people and empathize and improve as a person. So highly recommended for sure. Yeah. Have you got any, any places particularly you'd love to go?
[00:21:42] Marynciana Adema: Yeah. yeah, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda. My first one is South Africa. Then second in list is Uganda, then Nigeria. Then this beautiful island Seychelles.
[00:21:59] Adrian Jankowiak: Uh, Seychelles I can imagine. I've seen pictures. That's all I've seen.
[00:22:04] Marynciana Adema: After... outside Africa, I've heard stories about Canada. Yeah. Yeah. Then outside Africa, I'm actually looking at Canada. And yeah, and also Britain. They really have an interesting accent and I just say, okay, I really wanna hear you guys speak. And also on the internet, sometimes you see people making fun of them that you think you know how to speak really fluent English until you meet the Britons.
[00:22:31] Adrian Jankowiak: Uh, I, I, I guess I, I get to have the perspective of... I was actually born in Poland, so until the age of six, seven, I didn't speak English. And then I moved to the UK. So that's how I learned it. Also my accent has changed so many times, depending on where I've lived or where I've been moving around and who I'm hanging out.
[00:22:52] Your accent always changes. So I've realized my accent now is probably more of a neutral British than it was of a South London person before. So, yeah. But
Kenyans know English better than most Brits a lot of the time, Two more quick questions then we, we...
[00:23:12] Marynciana Adema: I didn't know that.
[00:23:14] Adrian Jankowiak: Yeah, for sure. So two more quick questions. The first one we like to ask because we are really interested in culture and you've got such a fascinating name. What's the story of Marynciana? What's the story of your name?
[00:23:27] Marynciana Adema: Uh, my name. That's interesting. I was actually named after my aunt. Basically, I don't know the meaning of my name. My family's religion is Catholic, so I was named after my aunt. And funny enough, my grandmother had so many Marys. So there was Marynciana, there was Mary Goretti, there was Mary, I think all her daughters had a Mary in it.
[00:23:55] So I don't know the meaning of my name,
[00:23:58] Adrian Jankowiak: Okay.
[00:23:59] Marynciana Adema: But, um, my tribe, I come, I come from the western side of. . Yeah. . I'm, um, from Viga County. Um, what else? I am a Margo. My clan. My clan is, um, Abasi. Abasi. So for basically the history of abasi is the abasi are actually kisses who are assimilated into becoming the Maragolis.
[00:24:27] So yeah.
[00:24:30] Adrian Jankowiak: Hmm. Uh, that I, I mean, I'd love to know more if there, if
[00:24:36] Marynciana Adema: Adema is a family name.
[00:24:38] Adrian Jankowiak: Have you got any traditional practices that are really interesting that other, even other Kenyans might be interested in hearing? Any traditional practices that we might not be familiar with?
[00:24:48] Marynciana Adema: Yeah. So the the familiar one most is Luhyas love ugali. Yeah, they and tea. I'm actually having a cup of tea and it's really hot outside.
[00:25:02] Adrian Jankowiak: Stabilizing temperature, good.
[00:25:04] Marynciana Adema: So yeah, it doesn't matter. Even, even if it's really burning outside, you'll go into your house and you'll get yourself a cup of tea. We are just tea addicts. So culture, culture, culture, which one do I start with?
[00:25:16] So, dowry for example, a man was supposed to give almost 12 cows to the wife's family. If the wife dies and the man had not given out the dowry officially, this
woman would not be buried in her husband's place. Her family will have to take her body and go buried at her ancestral home. So the man has to give out the dowry.
[00:25:42] So that's the interesting bit of it. What else?
[00:25:45] So we have this myth that when you are walking then a cat crosses your path, you're gonna experience bad luck. That's a belief. I dunno how true that is. I've never been crossed by by a cat.
[00:25:59] There's also another belief that if a hen crosses your path, you're gonna
experience bad luck.
[00:26:05] And when we're having chicken, gizzards are preserved for the men, not for the women.
[00:26:10] Women are not supposed to eat gizzards.
[00:26:13] Adrian Jankowiak: Okay. Interesting. I've heard the cat one before. I've maybe heard the gizzards one or I heard that it was the neck that was usually reserved. Wonderful. This is really awesome.
[00:26:25] You have the spill out? Yeah, that's yours? The spill out. Is that yours?
[00:26:30] Marynciana Adema: Yeah. . I just started it. Two weeks ago. The Spill Out podcast.
[00:26:36] Adrian Jankowiak: You've got three episodes out right now, so tell me what it's about. What drove you to start it?
[00:26:42] Marynciana Adema: Before I started the podcast, I had this, let me call it a one-on-one meeting with myself. And I realized I have a lot to share. And I'm a believer of before you die, you have to share something with the world. It doesn't matter what you're gonna share, whether it's your food or it's your knowledge.
[00:27:03] I told myself, what if I just start out a podcast? And then a friend of mine,
Ingrid War, at some point said something about me and I just sat down and realized she was actually right. I have a lot to offer and I can't just sit down and shove it away.
[00:27:22] I have to put it out there. Cause I'm this type of person who just loves picking out their mind. And I realized, why don't I have something where I can have anyone or anybody come in and just pick out their mind. That's why the word spill out. Just speak your mind. Spill out everything that is deep within you.
[00:27:45] Everyone has a story. So the question is, what's your story?
[00:27:49] Adrian Jankowiak: Love it. And I hope people tune into that and I hope we'll get more episodes and more people's stories and spilling out on that as well. So thank you so much. Where should people contact you? What should they contact you about and where should they find you?
[00:28:05] Marynciana Adema: Yeah, any question, someone can just ask me any question so they can reach me out through my email address email@example.com. Then also you can DM me on Instagram. My Instagram handle is cianna_lugasie. Then also DM me on LinkedIn, Marynciana Adema.
[00:28:32] Adrian Jankowiak: Great.
[00:28:33] Awesome. Thank you so much. It's been a awesome time having you on and learning about learning. Thank you.
[00:28:41] Marynciana Adema: Thank you for having me.