I’m already four weeks into my fellowship and as I anticipated, it’s been full of surprises!

A consultant by training, I’m in my element when I’m in an office, laptop in hand and armed with my shortcut keys. This is why I jumped at the chance to conduct my first Kiva training session. We pulled together a Power Point presentation, drafted and translated ‘cheat sheets’ and were ready to go. …or so we thought… Talk about an emotional journey!

The day started well with,

Enthusiasm: Granted, I was probably the only one who was excited for the session to begin but I Fn+F10-ed and the presentation was up and running. Then came…
Anxiety
: “Wait! That’s the search bar not the address bar.”
Chaos
: Forgetting to translate the calendar months could have resulted in a mad grab-bag of dates had it not been for a quick cross-reference table and printer.
Frustration
: Taking up 3 computers for the better part of the day in an office with limited resources was not spectacularly well received by senior management…
Relief:
By the end of the day, everyone got the hang of it and profiles proliferated!

Needless to say, it was a most educational day and despite the shaky emotional foundation, it wasn’t drastically different from the countless office days I’d experienced before.

Contrast this with the unfamiliar field. I find myself on the back of a motorcycle (breaking the only rule my dad ever gave me) and traveling to the community house that doubles as the FPW repayment center once a month. I realize that I have left my office sanctuary and <<CTRL+Z>> is not going to save me. I can’t take back the loud crashing noise of my motorcycle helmet falling to the floor or rescind my confusing question of “do you enjoy your job”. I don’t know much about animal husbandry or agriculture or raising a family, and I can’t quickly google ‘Le Mon’ to figure out what it is. but somehow, it doesn’t matter. The women welcome my questions and share details of their lives. I hear stories of strength and hard work – hauling fertilizer to and from train cars certainly puts my ‘long hours’ into perspective; of sacrifice – expensive medical trips to get better treatment for their children; and most often, I hear of success. “Increased earnings, new TVs, demand for more loans!” There is definitely no shortage of demand for microcredit here, and to me that is a sign that there is a need being fulfilled and that these loans are working!

No shortcut key could’ve taught me that.

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