By KF9, All Over The World

Happy Thanksgiving!  We KF9′ers thought we’d put together a collection of thoughts on Thanksgiving (sorry to those who don’t partake in Turkey day!) from our respective locations all over the world.  While we may not get to celebrate in our traditional way or be with family, I think its safe to say we are all extremely thankful for the opportunity to serve as Kiva Fellows and to have such wonderful readers on this blog! Happy Thanksgiving to all, and gobble gobble.

In no particular order:

Alana Solimeo, KF9, Costa Rica

I’m grateful for my Kiva Fellows.  You’ve been there for me like nothing I’ve ever experienced, the umbrella keeping me warm, dry and LOLing as I scurry through Costa Rica’s rainy season in hopes of a sunny day.  Much love.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Karl Baumgarten, KF9, Costa Rica

Tomorrow I will be crashing the Thanksgiving festivities being hosted by my Costa Rican Kiva Comrade, Alana Solimeo, in San Jose.  Kiva Fellows from Nicaragua (Meg Gray and Victoria Kabak) and Guatemala (Jeremy Lapedis) will be joining us for an exotic feast of Papaya Pie, Iguana Stew (possible) and other Thanksgiving classics. I’m thankful to have such a strong community of Kiva Fellows to fall back on and for Skype, making holidays far away from family and friends feel so much closer. Desde Costa Rica, FELIZ DÍA DE GRACIAS!

Ed Coambs, KF9, Philippines

For Thanksgiving I will be attending a microfinance conference in the city of Cebu, Philippines. I will most miss having a turkey leg to enjoy, I guess I will have to settle for a chicken leg instead. All I know is this year I will not have to rake a single leaf and that is what I am thankful for.

Meg Gray, KF9, Nicaragua

Hoping I still get to make a pie. I won’t be picky about what kind. Though a hot oven baking something for an hour doesn’t have the same affect in Nicaragua (or Costa Rica, which is where I will be on Thursday visiting other Kiva Fellows) as it does in Massachusetts.

Josh Wilcox, KF9, Peru

It’s business as normal here in Peru, but playing football on a crisp autumn morning with friends has always been my favorite start to Thanksgiving Day. Que todos tengan un feliz Día de Acción de Gracias!

Dennis A. Espinoza, KF9, Cameroon

Here in Momo Mbengwi, Cameroon we had a harvest celebration last Sunday.  Some people from the local community brought a small contribution from their harvest to a local gathering and shared with the group.  Later in the day, my roommates and I prepared a chicken for the first time since I’ve been here and we feasted with friends.  On this Thanksgiving I will miss family, friends, cold weather, football and pumpkin pie most of all.  I wish everyone a “fine fine” Thanksgiving!

Mohammed Al-Shawaf, KF9, Palestine

I’ll be enjoying an extended weekend, spending time with family and eating copious amounts of home-cooked dishes. But not for Thanksgiving. In Palestine and all over the Muslim world, it’s Eid Al-Adha. You can read more about my reflections on this happy coincidence in a blog I just posted http://wp.me/p4kiU-2mN. Eid Mubarak!

Mary Riedel, KF9 Philippines

Yeah, business as usual here but we have Monday off for Bonifacio Day (Andres Bonifacio started the Philippine Revolution in 1896 to seek the independence of the Philippines from Spanish colonial rule). That means I’ll be resting up from last weekend’s visit with KF Ed and getting ready for another KF weekend in Manila with Eva. As for Thanksgiving… I will miss making the best stuffing on earth with my dad and sticking my hand inside that beast. I’ll also miss the after “dinner” (can you really call it dinner when it’s at like 3pm?) with the family. This year I am so grateful to be a kiva fellow and for moments when my mind stops, time stands still, and I am truely living this great experience.

Eva Wu, KF9 Philippines

As Mary pointed out, Monday is a national holiday here in the Philippines because of Bonifacio Day, so we’ll be meeting up in Manila this weekend! Thanks to her, I’m feeling a bit more of the Thanksgiving anticipation after an otherwise dreary week. Hopefully we can do some pigging out in Manila for a post-Thanksgiving celebration – maybe we’ll get some lechon manok, or roasted chicken, which is the closest local equivalent I can think of to a Thanksgiving turkey? ;) Despite all my angst over recent events in Mindanao, I feel truly thankful to be a Kiva Fellow in the Philippines. I’m grateful to have made friends with so many wonderful people who care about this world, and I’m happy to be working for two great organizations that are making a difference. Daghang salamat – many thanks!

Suzy Price Marinkovich, KF9 Bolivia, KF9.5 Chile

Feliz Dia de Gracias!  My husband Matt and I are making our way from Bolivia to Chile, passing overland through Argentina!  Just waiting for Kiva’s first-ever Chilean MFI to be ready for me, so we are ‘killing some time’ traveling. Rough, isn’t it? So on Thanksgiving Day, Matt and I will be wine tasting in Tarija, Southern Bolivia, which has the highest wineries in the world!  We miss our family and friends a lot, so we figured it would be a good plan to turn to wine for comfort.  Que les tengan un dia muyyyy lindo!

Rachel Brooks, KF9, Kenya

I live in Nairobi with my husband and two children so we are having a Thanksgiving dinner at home, albeit on Sunday. A few weeks ago we noticed some live turkeys for sale on the side of the road near our house so we’ve requested one. No presidential pardon. There’s plenty of sweet potato here too but no cranberries. But we’re thankful that it’s raining here now so things are starting to turn green and grow more in Kenya and it also reminds us of our friends and family in Seattle.

Zal Bilimoria, KF9, Ecuador

I’m based in Cuenca, Ecuador, and will be heading to Guayaquil this weekend to celebrate Turkey Day (a bit late) with Kiva Fellow Kimia Raafat and some new Canadian friends, even though they celebrated their Thanksgiving last month! But, not before an afternoon of watching futbol americano with American friends here in Cuenca from the World Teach program. I couldn’t be more thankful to have had this experience in my life of being a Kiva Fellow and making so many new friends through Kiva this year. Also, I can’t thank my family and friends enough for the support, friendship and care they have shared with me this year. Remember that Friday is a National Day of Listening, so in the Black Friday craze, take some time to listen and record someone’s story.  http://www.nationaldayoflistening.org

Bryan Goldfinger, KF9, Peru

I was invited to an early quasi-Thanksgiving lunch with a client and a loan officer. Here in Peru, “Pachamanca” is meat that is marinated, wrapped in plantain leaves and cooked underground for several hours on red-hot stones. They also throw in some potatoes and sweet potatoes. It was divine. I will definitely miss family and friends and am so thankful for health, happiness and of course, the fellows wiki.

Julie Pachico, KF9 Mexico

I’m thankful for my boyfriend for flying in to visit me, the amazingly kind and dedicated staff members at my MFI for braving the border at night with me to cross into Texas and pick him up at the airport, and my Puerto Rican neighbors for inviting us to a “dia del pavo” (Turkey Day) dinner. It’s a wonderful little community of Kiva friends and fellows here in Nuevo Laredo!

Sheethal Shobowale, KF9 Peru

I am extremely thankful for the opportunity to help so many people around the Cusco area and for my new Kiva friends.  I feel personally and professionally fulfilled while making a difference at Asociacion Arariwa and at Kiva. This Thanksgiving, my husband, my parents and my brother have decided to come visit Cusco.  After spending some time searching for a restaurant that will serve turkey, which is difficult to find because Peruvians in Cusco only eat turkey also thankful to spend time with my family after being away for a couple of months.  Kiva Love on el Dia de Gracias!

Jane Lim, KF9 Mongolia

Thanksgiving this year falls on the 26th of November, which is also Mongolia’s Independence Day! 85 years ago on this date (i.e. 1924), the Mongolian People’s Republic was formed, ending occupation by first the Manchus since the 17th century, then the Chinese for 2 brief years. The word independence is somewhat dubious, since it was heavily aligned with the Soviet Union/Russia thereafter until the Mongolian Democratic Revolution in 1990. True independence or not, we are getting today off! Am about to go to the market and buy stuff for a potluck Thanksgiving dinner with a couple of Americans here. Am making roasted garlic mashed potatoes :)

Gavin Sword KF9, Rwanda

We’ll be joining an expat community for Thanksgiving Dinner at a local restaurant in Kigali.  No cooking or cleaning, how nice!  (Yesterday was my daughter’s 4th Birthday so she thinks this is simply a continuation of her party and is still wearing her Tiara Princesss dress for the occasion).  I am grateful for so many things especially given the contrast of living conditions that i see every day living in this country.  Kiva Love, G

Nick Malouin, KF9, Togo

As a Canadian, American Thanksgiving has always been an opportunity to visit friends south of the border and enjoy a second serving of turkey. I never understood why we ate in the middle of the afternoon but I was happy to indulge. In Togo, the concept of Thanksgiving is well known and my colleagues are excited by the prospect of celebrating for a second time this year. It won’t be an exact replica of back home but it will be close: chicken instead of turkey, soccer instead of football, and fufu instead of potatoes.

Brian Kelly, KF9, Armenia

Being 12 time zones away from home is definitely hard on Thanksgiving, but being in Armenia has reminded me of the importance of family and how lucky I am to have so much, including many future Thanksgivings to come with my wonderful family.  I am extremely grateful for this priceless experience, all my fellow KFs who have become instant friends, the KFP team, my friends and family at home, and everyone who has shown their tremendous support to help make my Kiva Fellowship happen! and run-on sentences too.  I plan to venture out and find the most Thanksgiving-esque meal possible in Yerevan with some friends here, and potentially dress up like a pilgrim with a 16th century musket and cornucopia under my arm if I can find the appropriate accoutrements.  And square buckled shoes. definitely square buckled shoes.

James Han, KF9, Cambodia

I am incredibly thankful for the opportunity to work with organizations like Kiva and AMK, and for my new Kiva friends. The past two months have been humbling, inspiring, and fulfilling, both professionally and personally. I am also thankful that I was able to see my family, friends, and girlfriend this past weekend as I had to make a very short trip back to complete b-school interviews. Tonight in Cambodia, I will be getting together with some KF alumni and friends to have some AWESOME Cambodian BBQ (usually beef and pork) along with a vegetable dish called Morning Glory and some delicious fried rice. Of course, to make the dinner a Thanksgiving dinner, we’ll be picking up some pumpkin pie from a nearby cafe. Happy Thanksgiving all!

Jeremy Lapedis, KF9, Guatemala

I am thankful to be reuniting with other fellows in Costa Rica later today. I can’t wait to discuss in person our experiences. Guatemala City is not a place where there are many Americans, so I have not had many English conversations, and I am looking forward to relaxing.

Victoria Kabak, KF9, Nicaragua

For Thanksgiving, I hopped on a TransNica bus for 9.5 hours to reunite with the closest thing I have to family here in Central America: other Kiva Fellows. Spending the day with Meg, Alana, Karl, and Jeremy will make not being with family on Thanksgiving for the first time ever feel a little bit less odd. And getting the chance to hang out for Costa Rica for the weekend is not too bad either. While there was some talk of trying to do an alternative Thanksgiving – iguana (a local delicacy) instead of turkey, mashed yucca, and papaya pie – I’m not sure if we’re actually going to be quite that ambitious. But whatever we eat, I’ll be thankful for the company. I’m also thankful for the opportunity I’ve had to spend three months in Nicaragua, to know other amazing Kiva Fellows, to meet Kiva borrowers who share their stories with me, and to contribute in some small way to Kiva’s incredible mission. Happy Thanksgiving from Costa Rica and to all of you in whatever part of the world where you’re celebrating!

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