I’ve been in DC since Monday morning and I was once again reminded of the energy of a big city. I had experienced this previously, most notably when I lived in Madrid, but there is truly something electric about being in a large city. I love the hustle, bustle and stimulation from people watching. There is certainly never a dull moment.
Now, the real reason I was in DC was for a conference on Microenterprise, or should I say Microbusiness with AEO. The sessions were very informative, but most of all, I loved talking with the people here. The first person I met was oh, I don’t know, the COO of one of Accion‘s regional branches. nbd. I also met representatives from Kiva, Grameen, Intersect Fund, CBA and many other incredible organizations who all support the microbusiness industry in some way.
We learned about a new program Kiva will launch soon, I talked with a somewhat creepy old guy (meaning I couldn’t quite tell if he was just nice or hitting on me, you know how that goes :)) I also met a Jewish man who wears a kippah all the time! I don’t know why this fascinates me, but I guess being raised in the South has limited my exposure to practicing Jews. Sorry Joey, you don’t count any more. In all seriousness, it was fascinating to talk with him. His organization, the Hebrew Free Loan Society has been around since 1892!
I started the conference off with a bang by attending the wrong regional lunch. Apparently the big city was just too much for this Southern gal and I ended up at the Northeast luncheon instead of the Southeast luncheon (though in my defense, they were on opposite sides of the same room). Needless to say, I got a nice chuckle the second I opened my mouth and said: “Hey y’all, I’m Taylor and I’m from South Carolina. I think I’m supposed to be on that side of the room.” Simple southerner, this whole divide yourselves up thing was just a little too complicated.
Twice, I was told that I didn’t sound southern – I think they meant hick, but I just went with it. Twice, I was called a “baby” because I was almost 23 and everyone I was talking with was at least double my age. #winning I was schooled on my lack of knowledge of the alphabet: CBA, CRA, TA, and QXLF are all new acronyms I learned (just kidding on the last one, though I think I’ll start the Quite eXotic Lending Fund just to mess with people). I also had some lovely conversations about SEC football. Go cocks!
Though I am ready to be home (I’m currently writing from the hotel lobby), I am so glad that I came. I have learned so much and met some incredible people who are really shaping the field of microfinance, microlending, microenterprise, microbusiness, you get the picture. If you ever want to know anything about microenterprise, I’m your gal.*
*I apologize for the excessive use of the word gal. I think it is my southern roots rebelling against all these Yankees.