Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan – A Day in the Life of a Kiva Fellow

Many questions came my way when I let my family, friends and colleagues know that I am packing my bags and heading off to Kyrgyzstan for a few months. 

“I’m going to volunteer with Kiva in Kyrgyzstan and help the American University of Central Asia!”

“Wow! Great! Wait. What’s Kiva? Where’s Kyrgyzstan? What is an American university doing in Central Asia? There are a lot of holes in your story, is everything ok? Are you in trouble with the wrong people? What have you done?!”

Many good questions, to which I had no real answers… until now! 
The following is a photo depiction of what city life looks like for me, here in Bishkek. I hope you enjoy reading about, as much as I have enjoyed experiencing, a day in the life of a Kiva Fellow in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

Wake up, shower and grab a quick breakfast at “the pad”

Head out of the building, cross the street and pass through the nearby underground passage

Pass by the Philarmonic Hall and the statue with my favourite beard in town (there are many)

Stroll Chuy Avenue, Bishkek’s most monument packed crossway

On the way to work, pass by the White House, the Stella of Friendship and Ala-Too Square

Cross a leafy park and reach the American University of Central Asia ("AUCA") campus

Enter the main building, pass by an empty classroom and a soon to be packed auditorium

Arrive at the Financial Aid Office, my home away from home

Good morning Ganjina, Kiva Coordinator and AUCA Loan Officer

Grab a seat at my work station, where the magic happens, for the next three hours

For lunch, the team heads to a local restaurant and I order dumpling soup and tea

In the afternoon, I head upstairs to the administrative offices for meetings with Sven, AUCA’s Director of Development. Then, back to my desk until the early evening

At the end of the work day, I head out for an early dinner, passing by some soviet architecture and the Victory Square

For dinner, a healthy portion of shashlik and kefir

As the night settles in, the city shines

I do a bit of shopping at the local supermarket and the new mall nearby

A friend asks me to join him for a quick snack and a local beverage

After, its back to the apartment, where I do some reading and have a relaxing tea before heading to bed

About the author

Alex Guna

Born with an inherent love for travel and discovery, Alex was raised in Eastern Europe, grew up in the Middle East and spent the majority of his adult life studying and working in North America. An Honors Business Administration graduate from the Richard Ivey School of Business, Alex previously worked as an investment banker with a global financial institution, focusing on infrastructure and project finance. Actively involved with Kiva since 2012, Alex previously served as a Team Leader within Kiva’s Review and Translation Program and as an Advisor to Kiva’s Strategic Initiatives group. Alex spent nearly 18 months travelling and volunteering across Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Central America. An extension of both his corporate and non-profit backgrounds, Alex’ interests lay in the mix of business and social innovation, focused on the development of infrastructure in developing regions. Next, he is excited to apply this passion while undertaking his first Kiva Fellowship, working with new Kiva partners, AUCA and YSB, located in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan and Frankfurt, Germany, respectively.