Archive by Author | Paul

Ecuador Peace Corps Quarterly Magazine

El Clima is a magazine created by current Peace Corps volunteers in Ecuador. Check out the most current issues below.

September 2011

June 2011

February 2011

November 2010

August 2010

Thank you **Sarah R** for finding these.

If you are interested in connecting with more volunteers leaving in January 2012 search for our Facebook group called “Peace Corps Ecuador Jan 2012.”

Paul

My Trip to Bangladesh

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For three weeks I lived in Bangladesh participating in a program at the Nobel Prize-winning micro-finance Institution, Grameen Bank. The program was called “Comprehensive Training Program for Replicators.” I applied for this program in order to connect my background in accounting and finance to my future work as a Business Adviser in the Peace Corps. My hope is that micro-credit can be used to support the businesses I will be working with in my host community in Ecuador. After completing the program I left with the skills to either support an existing micro-finance institution or to build a new program from scratch.

Grameen Bank, founded by Muhammad Yunus in 1976, popularized a new term called mico-credit. Yunus’s book, Banker to the Poor argues:

  1. Credit is a fundamental human right denied to the poor,

  2. Credit is a way to alleviate poverty and empower women,

  3. Poor borrowers will honor their loans even in the absence of collateral.

Starting with 27 dollars this economist gave small loans to a group of women. To his surprise they paid their loans back in full after investing in materials to build baskets and stools, which they sold in the market. Today the organization has over 8 million members, nearly all women, who use the loans to invest in projects from livestock to grocery stores.

In the training, I was placed in a branch in the village of Purila Poba for a little over two weeks conducting the rest of my training in the cities of Dhaka and Bogra. Because I did not speak Bengali I worked with a translator and program coordinator **Matin** who later I would also call friend. **Muhammad Sidduzman**, the Branch Manager spoke no English but spoke with me for countless hours going over the technical side of running a branch office. Discussions included how to recruit new borrowers, lead meetings, establish loan ceilings, check loan utilizations, approve or reject loans and maintain security, among other topics.

Read More…

Two Months ‘Til Ecuador!

Today marks exactly two-months before we depart for Peace Corps training in Ecuador on January 18, 2012. To mark the occasion I’m sharing some of my favorite travel quotations.

Enjoy, Mari

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A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. – Lao-tzu

Not all those who wander are lost. – J. R. R. Tolkien

People don’t take trips – trips take people. – John Steinbeck

Without new experiences, something inside of us sleeps. The sleeper must awaken. – Frank Herbert

Kites rise highest against the wind, not with it. – Winston Churchill

Half the fun of the travel is the aesthetic of lostness. – Ray Bradbury

I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list. – Susan Sontag

Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there. – Will Rogers

Wandering re-establishes the original harmony which once existed between man and the universe. – Anatole France

Don’t tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you traveled. – Mohammed

It is not down in any map; true places never are. – Herman Melville

A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles. – Tim Cahill

One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things. – Henry Miller

To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted. – Bill Bryson

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes. – Marcel Proust

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined. – Henry David Thoreau

You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus. – Mark Twain

Fear the Boom and Bust!

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Thank to **Swope** for sharing.

Paul

Happy Birthday Mari


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Happy Birthday Mari. You are the smartest, kindest and most industrious person I know. You inspire me each and every day and I now feel complete after being apart for the past month. I am excited to celebrate your life here in New York which somehow seems like the perfect place! In addition, it’s another chance to say goodbye to our home and the people that we love. I know that we will have lots of new adventures and birthday cakes to look forward to in Ecuador. But for now let’s party in NYC.

I love you,

Paul

Occupy Wall Street Makes Front Page in Bangladesh


The front page of a newspaper in Dhaka, Bangladesh runs a story on an Occupy Wall Street solidarity protest in London. The whole world seems to be watching. Read more

My First Day in Bangladesh

What can I say about Dhaka that has not already been said.

It is a vortex of colorful movement that brings you into it’s hold, spins you about and throws you back out. I was more adventurous today than I had been in Bangalore (India – where I went about a year ago). The first day here I caught a CNG (or a three-wheeled caged auto-rickshaw) to the market for 250 Taka ($3) for an hour ride.

An auto-rickshaw is a life defying contraption, hurling down the road, fighting against large buses and trucks with no regard to its size or safety. Bangladesh is a poor country and here safety is somewhat redefined in a necessity defined by survival. Construction workers either wear sandals or work in bare feet carrying re-bar sections 20 feet in length. People dodge in an out of traffic which is moving at alarming speeds. And as we weave in and out of passing cars I try to clear from my mind Newton’s third law: for every force there is an equal and opposite reaction.

In the market I haggle and one storekeeper brings out a tray of three cups of tea. I thought of the book with the same title that Mari and I listened to on our road trip this summer. Drink they say. I am content and smile not knowing if we change the subject and start talking about family. In the end I will pay three times the price for a cheaply made backpack but come to realize that’s OK. In the moment I feel taken advantage of but the truth is probably the reverse. I also buy a calculator because I need some way of communicating about prices. For the rest of the day I type out numbers on the calculator and hold it up to make an offer.

Next I head to Ahsan Manzil, a palace museum, and then Shankhari Bazar, a narrow street of Hindu artisans and craftsmen. This is old Dhaka and the streets are narrow, bordered by three story stone buildings and packed with the colorful bicycle rickshaws. I ride two rickshaws in old Dhaka and also set out on foot.

I made friends. I talked with **Rashidi** who pointed me to a great lunch place and then we started talking about traveling, the city and work. I spoke with **Nasir** who earned a masters in literature about corruption in the government. What I found is that everywhere I go I am surrounded by people eager to talk. Whenever I do stop I draw a crowd. In Shsan Manzil, someone asked me my name and 8 people drew in close to hear me speak. None, including the one who asked, knew any more English. Many do know English and it is through them I learn about what it means to live here. People want to know what I do, how long I am here and where I am from. And of course they ask, “What do you think of our Country Bangladesh?”

Paul

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