Hello from Providence, RI! I can report that the New England autumn is rolling in right on cue. It is a time of year that I will be a little sad to miss; it’s crisp, completely refreshing, goes deliciously with hot coffee and your most treasured sweatshirt. The season, the city, my former college campus (as of this past May) will each receive their own “goodbye for now” before I drive back home to Washington DC and then fly to the Dominican Republic (departure: Oct 15th).
As many Kiva Fellows have reported—last week’s training was a standout experience. Our time was well-stocked with key agenda items—from learning specific Kiva internet technologies to understanding the Kiva vision, experience, challenges, and goals. I came out of the training with more respect for Kiva’s model than any other service or non-profit model I have worked with previously—Kiva is a place for innovation, creativity, humility, self-critique, patience, and very, very hard work.
What I Do Know…
It remains to be seen how everything in this Fellowship will work “on the ground.”
I did volunteer work in the DR in 2002, and got a summer worth of nonstop Dominican Spanish, food, dancing, sights, and sounds. In this way, I am fortunate, since I am not going to a completely unknown place. That first trip was something I could not have done without: complete with little to no electricity, no English, no plumbing, and nothing urban. I pretty much culture-shocked myself silly back then, at 17. Fast-forward through four college years of liberal arts studies, wanting to change the world, theories of globalization, a dash of economics, international politics, and studies of sustainable development (oh, and not to be left out: playing rugby, lots of it). Pause. Now a 23 year-old college grad, sick and tired of all that theory and macro-level data (and eternally grateful for the rugby) who’d just like and everything to be as hands-on as possible. Time to DO, not sit, time to work face-to-face, rather than read. Well, thank goodness for the Kiva Fellows program! In this light, the upcoming “unknowns” are very much welcome.
In specific terms, I know that I will be spending a good deal of time at Kiva’s partner institution, Esperanza. This organization has several social interests and activities, including microfinance. Esperanza is also a religiously rooted organization, which I have never before experienced. I’ll wait and see how those dynamics play out—and of course, I’ll write about it. The main headquarters are in the capital, Santo Domingo, and branch offices are spread out elsewhere. I expect that I will spend times in all of these locations, if not more. Below is the start of my DR map (I’ll keep working on it), with some of the areas where Esperanza/Kiva entrepreneurs are–(make sure to zoom!)
There will certainly be a good deal of traveling to do! Perfect. More to come soon.
For the partner info about Esperanza please go here: http://www.kiva.org/about/aboutPartner?id=44
For the independent Esperanza site please go to: http://esperanza.org/us
Kiva Fellow (KF6)