The following after the jump is taken from my application to be a Kiva Fellow.
Having grown up in the United States, Thailand, Hong Kong, and Philippines, I am both born and raised to be a Global Nomad. Everyone has a story, and sometimes, it’s about finding a way to be heard; other times, it’s trying to find what’s will help expand perspectives instead of simply watching reality television and listening to gossip. A case in point was in 2009: I was in the Philippines when typhoon Ondoy struck, but it was not reported in American mainstream media as well as it should have been. Friends sent me e-mails asking for updates because it was hardly covered, and many stories were not from CNN or Fox, but from Twitter and Facebook. Compassionate individuals organized ad-hoc groups to feed people who lost their homes, rescue neighbors stranded atop their flooded homes, and appealed worldwide on the Internet for donations to the International Red Cross. Stories are all around us, and thanks to social media (YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and WordPress), we are no longer just hearing stories, but able to tell our own, and eventually, share the same story, just like lenders, borrowers, Kiva, and its field partners are all part of the same story.
From this experience, there are several themes that I see align well with Kiva’s goals: accountability, adaptability, communication, and initiative. Though many believe ultimate accountability falls to governments to help people during a state of emergency, the Philippine government at the time was notable for its lack of it (highlighted by its designation as a “fragile state” by Foreign Policy magazine), resulting in its failure to adequately address the situation while individuals and international NGOs attempted to compensate and complement the institution’s efforts to help flood victims.
I envision myself if I were working with Kiva in the Philippines during the aftermath of this situation for example, working with a field partner, providing support through management consulting, training, writing manuals, and staffing with an anticipated influx of new volunteers. I then see myself auditing and checking oversights of MFI partners in the Philippines and doing both borrower profiling and verification, with an expected increase in the number of loan applicants. Lastly, I envision myself using blogging and social media as platforms to communicate with Kiva’s supporters, submit progress updates; all while having flexibility with my country placement and in potentially difficult scenarios with institutions, individuals, and unforeseeable dangers (such as another typhoon).
Drawing from my travel experiences in the Philippines, America, Thailand, and China, and my skill set as a writer, social media activist, and photographer, I hope to contribute as much to Kiva as I can. I want to make a difference while connecting people to one another, and to learn as much as I can to both improve and expand my skill set. My ultimate goal is to hear and share people’s stories, connect them, and make a more inclusive world through the inherent empowerment that is highlighted through social media in a globalizing world. Thanks to philanthropic groups like Kiva and social media more people can be informed of relevant global issues and take action, whether it is through Kiva donations, volunteering abroad, or online activism campaigns.