Nov 26, 2008 GH Ghana

Language is said to be the thing that separates man from animal. Oliver Wendell Holmes said it is the blood of the soul into which thoughts run and out of which they grow. It is also the way in which we can most easily communicate our deepest thoughts and desires with another. It is a tool that we use to bridge us together.

Yet since I have arrived in Ghana, I have begun to define language in an entirely new way. It is a constant ebb and flow of words and understanding. It is a roller-coaster ride of gerunds and participial phrases that mean all...

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Nov 25, 2008 AZ Azerbaijan

I’ve been in Azerbaijan for just over six weeks now, but I this is my first blog post since my arrival.

I haven’t known what to say, really. It’s not that I’ve been awed into silence by the exoticness of this Caucasus nation. I live in Baku, and we have six McDonald’s (so I hear — I’ve managed to visit two). Anyplace with that many McDonald’s fails some kind of exoticness test somewhere. Well, maybe if it was Japan and there was shrimp-burger on the menu, but the most exotic thing you can order at my McD’s is a MacArabic...

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Nov 25, 2008 ID Indonesia

Across from DINARI Foundation’s office, there is a large concrete lot with two long warehouses lining the perimeter. In the middle of the lot, blue tarps covered three mounds that were perhaps fifteen feet in diameter. In the morning, workers removed the tarps, revealing piles of what looked like sand as high as the men’s waists. Two of the men wheeled out mechanized plows and bulldozed the piles, gradually spreading the material across the concrete in messy spirals. A third worker appeared with a bandanna covering his nose and mouth,...

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Nov 24, 2008 TJ Tajikistan

In the past week I have met with almost 50 clients, which is way more than I met in the previous six weeks combined. I should feel inspired and excited by that accomplishment, but I mostly feel tired and battered. That’s because all of the clients I met with were BORING! I’m not exaggerating – I didn’t have one interesting interview. At least, that’s what I thought in the days surrounding the visits….

When I meet with clients, I ask a bunch of questions about their business, family, and personal...

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Nov 24, 2008 VN Vietnam

My mother grew up during WWII. She can make a little go a long way. But she’s no match for the Vietnamese. A couple of nights ago, at my translator’s house, we had chicken.

It is no fun being a chicken. But at least they weren't battery chickens!

Not chicken breasts or chicken thighs but chicken vertebrae. The amount of meat on a chicken’s vertebra is virtually nil. Common sense would accurately lead you to such a conclusion. But the...

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Nov 24, 2008 KH Cambodia

In my last post, I talked about visiting a client with Phanith, the AMK Kiva coordinator. The client officer (a.k.a. loan officer) was not available to take us, so we relied on a hand written map that got us lost many, many times. We had to ask almost every villager we saw, before we finally got to the client.

Getting lost in a village got my mind thinking about how nice it would be if we had an actual map with the locations of clients and how to get to them. So I spoke to Paul, the CEO of AMK, about how we could give GPS devices to our client officers. This would let us track them...

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Nov 20, 2008 CM Cameroon

This week has been completely exhausting, but one of the best weeks I’ve had here. I’ve been out in the field every morning this week—I still have tomorrow morning as well. Some of the centers have been quite far away, requiring me to leave at around 5:45 or so in the morning and catching a bike while it’s still dark. I like the longer rides though, I get to see more of Cameroon and get out of Bamenda. One of the rides to a center, Beatrice and I shared a bike. The driver told us he knew a short cut, and we went zooming through a foot path. The grass had grown over and was now hanging into...

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Nov 20, 2008 SL Sierra Leone

By Adam Grenier, KF6 Sierra Leone

Excerpt from recent conversation with Archibald Shodeke, Finance Manager, SMT:

Archibald:  “Would you like to participate in a market survey of the Waterloo district near Freetown?  We are considering a partnership with a U.S. based organization called Shine on...

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Nov 19, 2008 KH Cambodia

Wow, this Kiva world is small. The other day, while I was attending a United States Presidential election-day event with a good portion of the other expats in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, I noticed a woman just as teary-eyed as me as the results rolled in for President Elect Barack Obama. Both overwhelmed with emotion, we gave each other a hug out of pure joy. Then we just started talking, launching into a familiar round of questions you ask when you live or travel abroad.

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