During my junior year of college, I learned about the substantial impact Mohammad Yunus and his work had been having on marginzalized Bangladeshis, and I wanted to get involved. That summer, I worked with a young, China-based microfinance organization called Wokai as their New York chapter’s first management intern. Through regular collaboration with the chapter’s management, I learned a lot about microfinance and about how non-profits like Kiva operate. When I heard from a coworker that Kiva had a fellowship program, I knew I had to apply.

Kiva’s fellowship attracts me because I believe it will really help to further my understanding of microfinance. As insightful as my experience with Wokai was, it did not provide me with a very clear picture of how things work out in the field. The unique experiences that the Kiva fellowship offers, such as bringing best practices to field partners, would unquestionably provide me with a more concrete understanding of how MFIs operate, and thus a more complete picture of microfinance in general—both the good and the not-so-good aspects.

The fellowship also appeals to me because it offers more than just a better technical understanding of microfinance; it also provides a unique opportunity to be immersed in a new culture. I will never forget my first time being exposed to a culture vastly different from my own—on my first trip to a pre-Olympics Beijing. Living with a Chinese family, making friends with native Beijingers and learning about their language and culture were some of the most gratifying experiences I’ve ever had. I expect that spending time with host MFI employees and other locals and learning about their ways of life will be just as exciting.

Finally, I want to become a fellow because it will allow me to assume a leadership role in support of a cause I believe in. My experience leading a New York Cares GED Prep program not only taught me a lot about how to be an effective leader, but it also helped me to discover my passion for coordinating philanthropic projects. In the fall, I plan on applying for an MBA program with a focus in non-profit management and microfinance. Many of the elements of the Kiva fellowship, like training loan officers and taking initiative on borrower verifications, are great opportunities to use and further hone my leadership skills in preparation for the kind of graduate work I’ll be doing. For this reason and for the other reasons above, I think a Kiva fellowship is the ideal next step for me.

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