Can’t believe I haven’t mentioned it, but I found out where Kiva’s going to be sending me for the next four months!
It’s unusual, because my KF16 (fall) placement and my KF17 (spring) placement are sort of bleeding into each other. I’m going to be staying in Baku, Azerbaijan well into KF17, but I’m going to be adding a third MFI to my schedule: VisionFund AzerCredit, a brand-new Kiva partner which just posted its first loans on the website a few weeks ago. It’ll be my job to help them transition out of pilot status to become a full-fledged field partner – probably one of the most consequential projects a Kiva Fellow can work on. So I’ll be in Baku until March, splitting my time between Aqroinvest, Komak, and AzerCredit, and then I’m off to Kiev, Ukraine to work with one of Kiva’s oldest field partners, HOPE Ukraine. As part of my workplan there, I’ll be traveling to cities throughout Ukraine to help train the organization’s loan officers on Kiva processes.
And then back home in mid-May. Home. Man, that’s a weird thought.
To help you visualize where I’ll be, I have provided a map. Adam West, star of the original 1965 Batman movie, graciously indicates Baku for you. Kiev is marked by a chihuahua dressed as a taco.
It’s strange: I’ve been spending this whole fellowship moving constantly west, closer and closer to my comfort zone. Back in June, I dreamt of the opposite. I loved the former Soviet republics and was hoping I’d get to go there – but at the same time, I thought it might be even more valuable to receive a totally unexpected placement like Cambodia or Rwanda or Mozambique, someplace that would shock me out of familiar patterns and show me how to love a new part of the world. I still think that’s true. But my past few months on the ground here have reminded me just how inexhaustible is this beloved region of mine and just how much is left to see and learn. In the short term, I’m thrilled to be staying, and in the long term, I now know that this is where I want to build my career.
I’ve already met my Kiva Coordinator at AzerCredit, and she has temporarily put me up in AzerCredit’s corporate apartment – the same one the CEO stays in when she comes to Baku. This place is unreal. I’m reasonably sure it’s larger than my parents’ entire house. Nonetheless, I’m looking forward to moving out in a few days and into the first semi-permanent residence I’ve had in three months.
Oh, right, and it’s Christmas today! My first out of the country and away from my family. It’s a little disorienting being in a Muslim country over the American holiday season, but I had an awesome Skype session with my family earlier and felt a little more connected to home. I hope you all have a happy Christmas, whether or not you celebrate!