May 13, 2012

Hitting bottom & why kiva?

[this entry was written as an application for Kiva Fellows program 2012 ... which I did not make]

Last summer, I hit bottom.  It was ironic, because I should have been on top of the world.  I was graduating with a MBA degree from a top-tier business school.  I was earning six-figures.   I was going to marry a beautiful doctor.  And I was climbing a 12,000-foot Mt. Adams in the western US state of Washington. 

a pit stop on the way up to Mt. Adams - a beautiful day!
I summited Mt. Adams on a beautiful, blue, July day.  I climbed down, exhausted, but high with excitement from the climb.  I returned home to my gal.  She sat me down.  She was stern-faced.  And she said that she no longer loved me and could not be with me.  I was shocked.  No explanations.  In the subsequent days, I had to move out, was overcome with confusion, and felt completely abandoned.  I had moved 3,000 miles from North Carolina to Portland, Oregon to be with this gal.  And now what?  I had hit the bottom.  I lay on the floor, stared at the empty ceiling in a stuffy room, and thought to myself, “Okay, universe.  You win, I give up.”

And that’s when I realized I was nothing.  Yes, I have helped others before.  Yes, I have shared 100 Kiva loans (my profile page), and have participated in other peer lending programs.  Yes, I have supported social causes, so on and so forth, but because it seemed the proper thing to do.  After my personal suffering, I keenly felt others’ pain.  I ached with the brokenhearted.  I hungered with the hungry.  I mourned with those grieving a loss.  And I didn’t want to go through the same motions.  I gave up my well-paying, but soul-sucking job and moved from Portland to the Bay Area.  I wanted to create something new, something useful, something beautiful.  I knew those kinds of creators lived in the Bay Area.  I am seeking, and I want to help others as I journey along my path.  That is why I am applying to be a Kiva Fellow.  I had wanted to do so for a long time, but until now, I lacked the courage, the motivation.

I am applying for an Anglophone opportunity.  As I am new to this area, I would prefer a local fellowship – but I am flexible!  I would be interested in contributing to entrepreneurial causes and innovation efforts at Kiva.  For example, is there a way to disrupt the rates of pay-day lending?  How could we disrupt the chain of events that lead to huge gaps in financial literacy between one population and another within our own community?  Could Kiva build on financial lending platform to add other services and products to enhance the value of the offering?

"For as long as space endures, and for as long as living beings remain, until then may I too abide to dispel the misery of the world." These are beautiful words from Bodhisattva that have stayed with me through the years.  Or shall I cite the Christian teaching “love your neighbor as you love yourself?”  I see a tangible way of following those teachings in working as a Kiva Fellow.