Hi, I’m Tanuj Parikh and I’ll be living and working in Nakuru, Kenya (which is about 50 miles outside Nairobi, I believe) this summer for the MFI Ebony Foundation. I’m a 19 year old rising junior at Harvard and was born and raised in New York City. I just finished final exams last week and will be leaving for Kenya on June 12. I’ll be there for 10 weeks, living with a host family that Kiva and Ebony helped arrange for me.

I first became interested in microfinance when I got to college because it’s a pretty hot topic on campus – there are always panel discussions and information sessions about it, hosted by various student groups, international development organizations, economics professors, etc. From the beginning it struck me as an unbelievably powerful tool in the fight against global poverty and I’ve done all I can to get involved with it.

While searching for an internship for this summer, I knew that I wanted to be on the ground in Africa, a continent that I had never visited before. I also have several friends who have volunteered with various NGOs in different African countries the past few summers and they all raved about their experiences. While searching for an opportunity, I was given the recommendation to pursue a Kiva Fellow position and now here I am, about to embark in a few days.

I guess I don’t have much else to report, at least not until I get on the ground in Kenya. My best friend asked me the other day if I was nervous, and I told him a little. I’ve traveled to a lot of different countries before, but this will definitely be my longest stay anywhere by myself. It’s also sure to be a vastly different experience than the ones I’ve had in the past. That said though, I’m really looking forward to it. I can’t wait to get away from everything and everyone here and to immerse myself entirely in a new and unfamiliar country and culture. I know it’s going to be an amazing learning experience for me, both about Kenya and her people but also about myself.

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