Chris Paci | KF16 & KF17 | Azerbaijan
It’s the beginning of March, and by now, most of KF17 has been out in the field for several weeks. We’ve settled in at our field partners, gotten to know some of our new coworkers, and started to dig a little deeper into the societies of the countries we now call home. Many of us have already traveled out into the field to visit the borrowers at the heart of the Kiva model.
Check out this week’s posts and join the fellows of KF17 as they discover the quirks of Samoa, reflect on Benin’s distinctive culture, and observe extreme poverty in the Dominican Republic. Then keep on reading to learn about a devoted loan officer in Ecuador, the money management techniques of microfinance clients in Togo, and the surprising opportunities that Liberian microfinance institutions can create.
Fa’a Samoa: Definitely Not About Girl Scout Cookies or ‘The Rock’ 
Adria Orr | KF17 | Samoa
After two and a half weeks in the South Pacific, Adria shares some of the more surprising aspects of everyday life in Samoa, as well as putting to rest once and for all her two most frequently fielded questions: “Where is Samoa?” and “Isn’t that a cookie?”
Same Same but Different 
Allison Moomey | KF16 & KF17 | Benin
At the beginning of her second placement, returning Kiva Fellow Allison explores the topic of cultural differences: between her two host countries, Burkina Faso and Benin, and between the two Kiva field partners with which she’s worked.
Modernity in the Dominican Republic: La Capital vs. El Batey 
David Gorgani | KF17 | Dominican Republic
In his first borrower visits, David discovers the jarring disparity between the luxury of central Santo Domingo and the poor bateys of its outlying districts.
Loan Officer Spotlight: FODEMI’s Freddy Andrade 
Isabel Balderrama | KF17 | Ecuador
Isabel profiles one of her most inspiring new coworkers, a committed loan officer known throughout his organization for having achieved a 0% default rate on his portfolio.
The Sums of a Social Performance Certificate 
Michael Slattery | KF17 | Togo
Having formally presented his field partner with its two Kiva Social Performance Badges , Michael reflects on the differences – and the surprising similarities – between microfinance institutions and commercial banks, shedding light on how microfinance clients manage their money.
Micro-Credit’s Dirty Little Secret 
Ryan Cummings | KF17 | Liberia
Ryan shocks the Kiva Stories from the Field  readership by revealing that microfinance institutions don’t just help their clients – they can also change their staff members’ lives for the better.
Updates from the past month:
Client Visits in Bethlehem, A New Partnership in Cameroon + A Peek Into a Loan Officer’s World 
Plus more pictures from the past week: