Yesterday was my last day at HOPE International. It’s bittersweet leaving, but I like to think that this is only the beginning of my time at HOPE. Now that I’ve had time to think about it, I’m not really sure how I ended up at HOPE. Back around the time I got accepted to Peace Corps I realized that I would have some time before I left. I figured I had three options: 1) get a job and work until I left, 2) do an internship in something I was interested in, 3) travel. I was exploring opportunities to teach English or Economics in Korea but because I couldn’t resolve my visa situation in time I just didn’t feel comfortable just packing up and moving to a foreign country for half a year without a firm plan.
It was around this time I had picked up Muhammad Yunus’ book “Banker to the Poor” and learned about this concept of microfinance. I thought it was a practical way to help the poor using finance and accounting. I was hungry to learn more. After looking around the internets I ended up applying to several internships (mostly with ACCION) but in the process stumbled across HOPE’s website and got in touch with one of the guys there. After a brief conversation we agreed that I would come on as an intern assisting the programs team and the finance team.
My time at HOPE has been interesting and challenging. One of the biggest changes I dealt with was going from a very structured, uptight, hierarchical organization to a small, open door environment where people ACTUALLY get along. Shocking, I know, especially after working as an auditor where every client hated your guts even though they’d flash their saccharine smiles. Another change was my living situation. I live about an hour and a half from headquarters so I would drive there for three days/week during which I would stay at the house of a coworker who was out of town traveling. The first week I was there my coworker was still around so I crashed at another one of my coworker’s place (who at the time had this wicked hardcore beard). It was strange staying with a complete stranger but he, like the rest of the HOPE staff, did their best to welcome me as one of their own.
(to be continued)