By Kati Mayfield, KF10 Honduras
We are the tenth class of Kiva Fellows (KF10), and we graduated from Kiva Fellows training! Now we must implement all that we have been charged with over the last week. Before I upholding my end of that promise, I need to reflect on the impact that the Kiva Fellows experience has already had on my life.
But how do I craft the perfect, viral blog that will accurately represent myself, my Kiva community, and the community in which I will be working and living?
I’ll start by trying to reflect the community that hosted us for the last week during our Kiva Fellows training.
The San Francisco Community:
From the “Kiva Friends” who joined us at the socials, to the friends, family, and proprietors of local hostels that took us in, San Francisco welcomed us warmly. I am proud to say that, despite some lingering suburban-girl anxieties about public transportation, I managed to get myself to Kiva every day on the bus. (Valuable practice for my upcoming placement in Honduras).
The KF10 Training Class:
We played a get-to-know-you game first thing Monday morning. The game prompted us with descriptions of members of our class, and we had to find the person in the room to whom each blurb matched. During that game, and throughout the week, the level of personal and professional achievement that each of my classmates can boast just blows me away. But the genuine, humble way in which my classmates carry themselves impresses me even more.
The Kiva Staff (including interns!):
These are masters of expression: every presenter this week conveyed their (often complex) points incredibly articulately. They rose to the challenge of assembling Kiva material that would be both relevant and informative to each Kiva Fellow – not a small task considering the diversity of our backgrounds and our field placements. It’s been enlightening to see how relentlessly this team fuels the Kiva engine. Finally I understand how such an intricate machine generates an incredibly personal product.
How does this happen? It’s driven by the level of personal commitment stemming from each member of the Kiva community. Kiva Fellows give up (or put on hold) much of our lives to commit to our placements; this week Kiva staff rewarded us by demonstrating their level of commitment. Staff members strive for self-awareness, penetratingly sure of what their individual role is within Kiva, and how it complements the work of their Kiva peers. A conversation with a Kiva software engineer proved this to me: he’s currently revamping the data platforms and coding processes that translate incoming field partner data into material that appears on the website. After concisely diluting the complexities of his process into plain speech for me, he asked what I thought about Kiva’s transparency on the microfinance institutions (MFI) partnerships side. It seems that one of his hopes is that, by making the underpinning software processes more efficient, the MFI’s repayment-to-Kiva process will also be more efficient. His work happens far “behind the scenes” of Kiva, and impacts the MFI partners on the other end of the stage. To cater to them he communicates with intermediary Kiva representatives, and because I am now a bonafide Kiva Fellow (YAHOO!), he willingly gave my opinion a spotlight for consideration.
Graduation from training was a big turning point for me: as a Kiva Fellow I am recognized as informed opinion on the topics of “Kiva” and “microfinance”. The Kiva Fellowship itself represents the most significant commitment I have ever made, and I discovered this week, it’s comparably momentous for each of my classmates. As I swore to many of my new friends in a tearful goodbye hug last night, I look towards Honduras with the goal of supporting the Kiva community, the Kiva model, and (most importantly) spreading the Kiva love.