Teaming Up With Kiva

photo (78)On March 16th, Spanish students teamed up with Kiva to use their language skills to promote global economic sustainability for small business owners. They translated borrower profiles and helped select loan recipients from all around the globe. This authentic use of Spanish stimulated profound engagement for Hamlin students.

Kiva has “a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. Leveraging the internet and a worldwide network of microfinance institutions, Kiva lets individuals lend as little as $25 to help create opportunity around the world” (Kiva’s website).

As part of the lesson, Spanish students used their skills to translate a Kiva borrower profile from Spanish to English. Objectives were:

-to learn how their knowledge of Spanish will be relevant for future job opportunities

-to acquire language skills in order to support others in a global context

-to learn vocabulary words related to economic development in Latin America

-to practice grammar skills in the context of direct translation

Jessica Hansen, Kiva’s Education Development Manager, set the stage by sharing some of her insights into this important work. She stated that Kiva often supports budding entrepreneurs in countries facing gender inequality, human trafficking and a lack of sanitary water sources. In particular, she cited the need for Kiva to empower refugees who are often among those most vulnerable to poverty and instability.

Hansen explained how countries and non-profits often find themselves in co-dependent relationships without truly sustainable outcomes for individual people. She underscored that Kiva’s goal is to “put itself out of business,” as entrepreneurs achieve and maintain their own self-generated success with the help of loans. To this end, Kiva’s funding platform has helped people in 91 countries including the United States, with a repayment rate of 99%. Lenders come from all over the world; Hansen made a point to share with the students how a young entrepreneur in Oakland received funds from lenders in Tanzania.

After speaking, Hansen opened the floor for questions. One student asked, “Since the value of money changes over time, how do account for that?” Another student wondered, “How do you evaluate the trustworthiness of a borrower?”

Hamlin students then had the opportunity work in small groups to share the translations of the various loan profiles they had worked on previously and discussed which borrowers they deemed the most aligned with their interests and passions.

Next, students were given the responsibility to choose worthy loan recipients by vetting profiles from all over the world. An anonymous Kiva investor set aside $1,125 to allow Hamlin students to disburse as they saw fit ($25 per student). As the lesson concluded, there were audible cheers as the students made their payments.

One student shared the following in her written reflection about the lesson:

” Kiva inspires people to really work towards their goals, given the fact that others around the world have put their trust in you and believe that you can succeed.”

For more information about Kiva, please visit:

To watch Hamlin students translating a loan profile, please click on the video below:



Special thanks to Spanish teachers Christina Kane, Mallory Powers and Alison Trujillo for designing this meaningful learning experience.


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