esmaspäev, juuli 02, 2012
See laul räägib sellest, kuidas igatsus on nagu haigus. Mina ja Fry plaanime selle looga augustikuisel talendišõul esineda. Mina kitarri ja lauluga, Fry räppimise ja ühe teatava valju klopsimisheli tekitava hiina löökriistaga.
Juuli on saabunud märkamatult. Mida rohkem on tööd, seda vähem on märgata aja möödumist. Esimene nädal oli kõige hullem - pidevalt oli midagi lahti, ajakavas oli midagi valesti, õpilased ei leidnud klassiruume üles, ilm oli vaheldumisi vihmane ja liiga palav, ja mis kõige hullem - kohvi ja piim said vaheldumisi liiga vara otsa!
Hiina keel suvekooli õpilasi on mitmesuguseid, mõned neist väga eakad. Kõige vanem õpilane on oma ea kohta väga vapper ja tegus, kuigi programmi alguses oli ta jube vihane, et talle ei olnud piisavalt seletatud, kuidas kasutada Internetist leiduvaid õppematerjale. Muidugi on meie programmis valdav enamus tehnokrattidest kolledžiõpilased, nii et tõenäoliselt oli tal tõesti kurtmiseks põhjust. Üleeile tuli ta aga palju mõistlikuma suhtumisega meie kontorisse abi küsima. Nimelt oli ta endale netist riideid tellinud ning ta ei jõudnud saadetist ise oma tuppa tarida. Sain talle oma abi pakkuda.
Olen nüüd kolledži juhiloa omanik. Laupäeval käisime Jordaniga (tehniline abi) Burlingtonis professor Sunil vastas. Professor Sun oli muideks minu teise aasta hiina keele õpetaja. :) Sõit tuli päris hästi välja, aga üsna pika kerega 7-kohalise mahtuniversaali parkimine osutus oodatust keerulisemaks. Õnneks ei olnud tasuta parkimismajas tol hetkel eriti tihe liiklus, nii et veetsin viis minutit ennast betoonsamba ja järgmise auto vahele sättides.
Olen leidnud endale väljaspool hiina keele kooli nii kitarri- kui sulgpallisõbrad. Pean tunnistama, et mul on õnnestunud natuke rohkem kui aasta jooksul KAKS reketit ära kaotada, aga õnneks on Middlebury's olemas sulgpalliklubi (!), nii et saan vähemalt selle suve jooksul nende reketeid laenata. Tegemist on üsna viisakate mängijatega - tunniajase paarismängu järel olin omadega täiesti läbi. Kohtusin täna nelja klubiliikmega, kes on muide kõik asiaadid. Üks on Bangladeshist, üks Taist, üks Uus-Meremaalt (räägib hiina keelt) ja üks Hong Kongist. Kitarrisõbra leidsin eelmisel pühapäeval muru pealt, Damian Rice'i "Cannonball'i" mängimas. Peatusin ja küsisin naljaga pooleks, kuhu ma dollari panna võin. Leidsime üsna ruttu ühise keele (meile mõlemale meeldib folk) ja nüüdseks oleme juba kolm korda koos mänginud. Plaanime minna Burlingtoni tänavale mängima, kuigi selleks peab olema luba... Aga see maksab 25 dollarit ja me tahame ainult kogemuse pärast minna, nii et kui politsei meid ära ajab, siis pole sellest ka suurt midagi. :)
Kell on juba üksteist läbi, hakkan magama sättima. Olen viimasel ajal avastanud, et üheksa tundi und teeb minust ühe väga rahuliku ja õnneliku inimese!
esmaspäev, juuni 18, 2012
Ärkasin täna hommikul telefoni vibreerimise peale. Samamoodi nagu viimased üheksa kuud. Erinevus seisnes selles, et täna ärkasin ma esimest korda oma Middlebury College'i üheinimesetoas. Üks inimene ühe toa kohta! Midagi täiesti uut. Muidugi kui mitte arvestada jõuluvaheaega kodus ja nädalat kevadvaheajast, mil mu toakaaslane Julia oli Lõuna-Carolinas puhkamas. Üksinda olemine on nagu puhkus. Lisaks on mu tuba väga armas, sisseehitatud riidekapi ja kummutiga. Kõik on puust, mis puust olema peab (kaasa arvatud aknaraamid) ja mul on isegi isiklik kraanikauss!!
Ärge arvake, et ma olen seoses iseseisvasse ellu astumisega sattunud materiaalse heaolu võlude kütkesse. Kindlasti mitte. Minu peamine eesmärk oma suvisel ametipostil on siiski kogu Middlebury kolledži hiina keele suvekoolis osalejate füüsilise ja vaimse heaolu eest hoolitsemine. Sellega kaasneb täielik (24/7) pühendumine. Täna olime hommikul 8.30-st jalul, käisime koos oma juhendajaga läbi kogu Hepburni-nimelise viiekorruselise hoone ning kontrollisime kõikide tubade seisukorda. Varsti seisab mul ees sama oma isiklikus hoones nimega Forest. Nimelt on minu hoole all umbes sadakond suvekoolis osalejat, kellest valdav enamus on õpilased, kellest omakorda valdav enamus käib kolledžis, aga minu hoole all on ka näiteks üks seitsmekümnendates daam ja üks Hiinast pärit õpetaja, kes palus seljaprobleemide tõttu oma toas voodi asendada puuplankudega ning laotada nende peale mitu kihti tekke.
Minu paarimees sellel suvel on Efraim Klamph - lühidalt Fry. Ta on pärit Kanadast ja on Kanada rahvusliku talendivõistluse Hanyu Qiao ('hiina keele sild') finalist. Ta räägib hiina keelt väga veenvalt pekingi aktsendiga ning oskab mängida üht väga lärmakat hiina löökpilli. Tema elab Hepburnis koos paarikümne magistrandi ja nelja õpetajaga. Tema hoolealuste hulgas on näiteks filminäitleja, kelle avaldus suvekoolis osalemiseks tuli ühe teatava maailmakuulsa Hong Kongi meesfilmistaari allkirjadega. Just sayin'...
Homme kohtume mina ja Fry kõigi teiste omasugustega - toimub kakskeelsete assistentide Orientation. Middlebury suvekoolis õpetatakse hiina, jaapani, saksa, portugali, itaalia, hispaania, vene ja prantsuse keelt. Teistel koolidel (peale portugali keele) on üldiselt rohkem assistente. Venelased pidavat kogu aeg viiekesi kambas ringi käima. Loodan, et saame mõningaid häid tutvusi, et hiljem kogemusi vahetada.
Kell hakkab juba pool üksteist saama. Tahan homme hommikul enne ürituste algust jooksma minna, niisiis on varsti uneaeg!
ehk 罗羽菲 (luo2 yu3fei1)
pühapäev, jaanuar 15, 2012
The last two days at Grameen passed quickly. I had finished my research, so after the 9AM call conference with Musoni, Kate sent me over to Development to get to know another part of the organization better and to help them with some end-of-year filing work and mailings. I spent a day and a half with a wonderful lady named Jacqueline who first talked about the importance of the Development department and then answered a pile of questions I had. I am amazed at how patient she was with me – according to another lady in Development, Lusille, the most valuable skill of someone who works at Development (at least if they work for her) is to ask as few questions as possible and to complete as much work as possible! But since Jacqueline also handles all the bookkeeping that goes around donations, it is important to ask questions to make sure that every check and thank you letter goes to the right place when filing.
Development essentially has three sections: one that deals with grants from international corporations, foundations and the government, one that handles middle-sized donations, and one that handles donations smaller than $25,000. Apparently, the smallest donation made to Grameen is a monthly 10-dollar check from somebody in Minnesota. Every donation counts, and each donor gets the appropriate acknowledgement as well as a tax exemption notice (also very important).
People at Grameen Foundation tend to wear many hats. Besides being in charge of smaller donations, Jacqueline also organizes fundraising dinners. She also goes to events to talk to potential donors about Grameen's work. Grameen obviously cannot attract every large corporation or a generous philantrophist, but it gets donors based on mission alignment (there is that word again! It seems to be extremely important in the NGO world). So maybe Nike, a sportswear company, will not fund Grameen, but JPMorgan Chase, the MasterCard Foundation and Google, Inc will. The reason is simple – Grameen helps the poorest using strategies that appeal to banking and technology companies. In terms of mission alignment, these types of companies are the best fit for Grameen. In addition, there are international funds such as USAID, Fund for the Poor etc. Grameen makes sure that their donors' money is spent in the way they have requested. For example, the donors can ask for their money to be used towards a specific program or a specific region. In addition, Grameen's assets and expenses are publicized annually. For the 2010-2011 fiscal year, 82% of the donations go directly to programs, 17% goes to cover overhead expenses (was that the right term?), and 1% goes towards fundraising. The sources of donations are: 50% foundations, 24% corporations, 26% individuals. 15% of the funding comes from in-kind donations, which means services in any other form besides monetary (e.g. volunteering).
Overall, I am really fascinated with the microfinance industry. I feel that it is really reaching out to the people, going past a lot of bureaucracies and being efficient with its funds. For inspiration, I would recommend everyone to see some of the success stories: http://www.grameenfoundation.org/our-impact
The story I find most inspirational is this one: a strong woman who does business and cares for her children, all of it while dealing with HIV/AIDS.
So this was my week at Grameen Foundation, at 1101 15th and L Street, Washington, D.C. I would like to thank again all the people whom I interacted with during this week, and of course, my biggest thanks and respect go out to Ms Kate Griffin who supervised everything I did this week and was generally supportive and insightful. Her work is truly inspirational, and so is her attitude towards it, all of which had a great impact on me. Thanks also to Kenyon's Career Development Center for helping me set up this externship, and the Burton D. Morgan Foundation for the financial support!
kolmapäev, jaanuar 11, 2012
teisipäev, jaanuar 10, 2012
It's 5PM and I'm sitting in a fairly crowded Starbucks on the corner of K and 15th. I will dedicate a whole other blog entry to the urban planning and architecture and everything else not microfinance-related in D.C. later hopelly, but for now, I am going to try and digest my first two days at Grameen Foundation.
Monday was hectic: we started at 8AM with an international conference spanning multiple GF offices and many time zones. I actually have very few memories of this phone call as I was not taking notes, but I do have many impressions of it as it was the first call meeting of this type that I have attended. It was very orderly: Kate was mediating and people would respectfully wait for their turn to talk. I am not the only addition to GF's office this week: Linda who goes to the University of California (San Diego I think) has a three-month internship with Grameen, which started yesterday. After the meeting, we got a tour of the office from Chris, then an introduction from Kate about all the different departments and programs of Grameen. Sounds like a busy day? It was only 10AM after all that! :)
At midday, Kate and Kimberly (Solutions for the Poorest Program Associate and my desk neighbor for the week) took me and Linda out for lunch. We had amazing Thai food and further introductions. Then Kimberly left and Kate shared further details with Linda and me about working on a proposal for MicroLead, a microfinance fund offering grants for microfinance development. I will be doing background research on Rwanda and Linda will be doing it for a project in Kenya.
The MicroLead proposals are due February 1st, so timing will be crucial for the next couple of weeks in terms of doing research, communicating with the MFIs that GF wants to assist, and eventually writing up the proposals. For this, many of those aforementioned intercontinental-interorganizational call meetings are required. According to Kate, it is a challenge to do everything this quickly and many talks are needed for the parties to get comfortable with each other and slowly delve deeper into the specifics of the process. The call meeting with the Kenyan MFI, Musoni, that I joined Monday afternoon (where some people were calling from desk phones and some were attached to the conference through a Skype by one of the people on the desk phone) was for the most part just an introduction, an ice-breaker of sorts, and after more than an hour of mediated discussion, further meetings were scheduled for later this week.
In the afternoon, Linda and I also met and chatted with representatives from three different departments in Grameen's D.C. office: Jimmy from Social Performance Management Center, Stephanie from Capital Management Advisory Center, and Maria from Human Capital Management Center. Jimmy talked to us about the Progress out of Poverty Index developed by GF to assess poverty levels, which is determined using 10 country-specific statistics. The cool thing about this index is that its straightforward-ness makes it usable not only by MFIs for their purposes but also by other organizations that are trying to assess and understand a country's situation better. Stephanie talked about GF's work in connecting world capital markets with the world's poor through different programs such as Growth Guarantees, Pioneer Fund, and Fair Trade. Maria talked about the importance of carefully choosing and training MFI employees and also about the problems the HCM department has with getting funding, and how underfunding can lead to poor decisions, which in turn can potentially lead to something even worse... All the three department meetings were exteremely interesting, but the HCM one with Maria, both the content of our discussion as well as the sincerity of the interaction definitely left me with quite a deep impression. (Also, as a non-American, may I add that I was quite fascinated by her accent, too!)
It is almost six o'clock now and street lamps, office windows and traffic lights are successfully fighting darkness that has descended over the Eastern Time Zone. I would only like to add some short reflections on today. I worked on my Rwanda research quite a bit in the morning (did you know that Rwanda is the only country in the world where women outnumber men in the Parliament? According to the 2003 constitution, 24 out of 80 seats in the Lower Parliament are reserved for women, and an additional fifteen women were voted into non-reserved seats. But that was just side-tracking...) In the afternoon I joined Kate and Laura for another intercontinental Grameen call, discussing the Musoni call yesterday as well as the MicroLead proposal involving Kenya Commercial Bank. Many questions arose, and will hopefully be answered tomorrow when Erin from GF meets with KCB people. I am excited to follow along as they are moving forward with this project. As I am understanding so far, the main things Grameen is concerned with in getting involved with a MFI or a bank, are mission aligment and institution/capacity building. I was having a chat with Kate a couple of hours ago about the content of today's conference call, and she explained Grameen's strategic thinking. Since GF is a comparatively small NGO, they want to get more bang for their buck, and the way they achieve that is making sure that their assistance multiplies in value after it has been given out. That usually means they want the MFI to expand and grow in clientele to have a bigger impact. It could also mean passing on technical skills.
So the real dilemma here is whether to support KCB whose mission alignment with GF is still undefined but has more capacity building potential, or whether to cooperate with Musoni that is smaller, but seems to be well in line with the main aim of Solutions for the Poorest, which is to reach and improve the living conditions of the poorest.
This is exciting, folks. Stay tuned for further updates on the microfinance front!
(Starting to sound more and more American...)