A Bank Two Summers Ago

Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes, or contributed to group efforts over time.

Two summers ago I’d wake up in the clouds and roll over in my sleeping bag to see if my host brothers were awake. If they were, I’d shimmy out of my bag and hurry next door to eat breakfast before we headed out to work our tiny subsistence farm. If they weren’t I’d slide out of bed and patter out the door. The top of the mountain was silent, and on a ledge overlooking our potato crop I spent a moment of reflection before my farming community awoke.

I was on exchange in rural Ecuador, living on top of a mountain in a small impoverished village. On top of that, birthed out of a desire to serve and give back to the community, I was leading a project with the local government to start a microfinance bank. Some mornings the process of starting a bank in my second language seemed insurmountable. At one point finding the legal and financial resources came to a standstill. I thought we would fail.

But, I couldn’t let them down. I was being hosted by the kindest and most generous people I have met, and owed it to them to give back. Time to get back to work. Time to create a community that my host brothers could thrive in rather than just survive in.

For the entire exchange I toiled on the bank. I spent late nights with a calculator and...

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