T-1 week. Finally got the visas, a step closer to field deployment in Tajikistan!
2 weeks ago, the 26th class of Kiva fellows completed our week-long training at Kiva’s HQ in San Francisco. It was overall a very inspiring week – meeting individuals from all walks of life across different corners of the globe, gathering to share Kiva’s mission of connecting people through micro-lending to alleviate poverty across the world. Most of us will leave our jobs to embark on 4-month long volunteer stints with Kiva, serving as their field Fellows. From Samoa to Vietnam, Kenya to Tajikistan, and even in the continental United States where Kiva Zip is now being launched.
It is T-1 week to my field deployment, and here are some things to be thankful for!
1. My Indiegogo campaign has been successfully funded! I have been tremendously blessed by the support of family and friends from near and afar. This journey would not be possible without you! A big thank you from the bottom of my heart to the following people: Ophelia Wong, Gaurav Nath, Melvin Mok, Francisco Erize, Min Xuan, Ting Wee, Tony Cecchin, Jonathan Lim, Desmond Tan, Lisandro Tsai, Wesley Sng, Vickrem V, Lee Li Kian, Mom/Dad, Brother, Grandma, Tristan, Steve Seo, Jeremy Au, Jeff Cai, Brandon Perdido, Cynthia Wong, Michelle Eack, Raghav C, Matt Kogan, Yi Sung, Andrew Chapello, Jill Chen, Janet Lee, Emily Johannsen, Sean Xie, Jing Li, Amelia Sevilla, Danielle Moushon, Jing Yi. Uncle Ong. Dan Cecchin. YQ Teo.
2. After some nervous-waiting, I finally got my visas to both Tajikistan and Russia! Getting to Dushanbe is pretty challenging. I am flying Austin-NY-Moscow-St Petersburg-Dushanbe. I am trying not to think about the total flight time but let’s just say it is pretty long. The strange thing about Russia is, as long as your itinerary involves any domestic flight (ie. Moscow-St Petersburg), you need to apply for a formal transit visa. So I had 3 weeks to obtain 2 visas, and boy was that a nerve-wrecking process. I had to send my passport via airmail to the Tajikistan embassy in Washington for the first ($160 for a hand written visa… really?), and then had Lysia drive my passport down to the Russia embassy in Houston for the latter. Thankfully, both visas were successfully issued so I am this bit closer to Tajikistan.
3. My wonderful life partner Lysia! She has been a tremendous pillar of support and encouragement throughout this process! and her big sacrifice, for agreeing to let me embark on this Fellowship though it meant we had to be apart for some time. You are the best, Lysh!