Gordon Thompson

Originally from New Jersey, Gordon earned a BA in English and Music from Swarthmore College. During two summers with the Forest Service, neither Latin nor French helped him communicate with Mexican sheepherders. Over the next several years he learned Spanish by traveling and studying in Latin America while completing an MFA in creative writing from the University of Florida. After teaching in Chile, he landed at Cranbrook, a boarding school outside Detroit, where he has taught English, led wilderness expeditions, coached Forensics, advised the literary magazine, and worked in the dorm. Thanks to summer vacations, he's visited more than 50 countries, including volunteering at ASSET The Gambia and the Tshume school, South Africa. A Kiva lender almost from day one, he's thrilled to get deeper into microfinance.

Fellows Blog Posts by Gordon Thompson

Jan 24, 2016 GO Global Update

In the movie Taken Liam Neeson says, “I don’t have money.  But what I do have is a set of very particular skills that makes me a nightmare for someone like you.”  Kiva is about altruism, not vengeance, but our Fellows are just as skilled (in a non-violent way) as any ex-spy.   Many people assume that all foreign travel is basically a beach vacation, and anyone could do it if they just had the time or money.  One friend asked me, "Apart from speaking Spanish, what skills do you have?"  This got me curious about what special skills my fellow Fellows have, so I... Continue Reading >>


Dec 16, 2015 EC Ecuador

The conventional definition of "Kiva magic" is when a borrower sees a printout of their Kiva profile and realizes, ecstatically, that they're involved in much more than an ordinary loan: dozens of strangers on the other side of the world have pledged them money on the strength of their photo and bio.  It's wonderful when this happens, and it makes inspiring photos and videos.  Yet in the course of visiting more than 25 borrowers, I've only witnessed this once.  In Peru and Ecuador at least, most borrowers are more overcome with bewilderment than joy.  In some sense this is... Continue Reading >>


Nov 29, 2015 EC Ecuador

San José de Chimbo, my Ecuador Mountain Home
The sun comes on strong.  At 6:30, when my alarm sounds, it's still pale and grey outside, but by 7:30, when I get out of the shower, I have to draw the drapes lest my little third-floor hotel room overheat.  The heavy yellow fabric turns the room golden while I dress.  Dance music fills the building as the receptionist begins cleaning.  I leave my key, bid her good day, and walk downstairs to the street, past the taxi drivers' union and the mysterious "... Continue Reading >>


Nov 17, 2015 PE Peru

            Ebert is waiting for me at 7 am as promised, crouched by his motorbike, his hoodie cinched, looking like a benevolent bandit.  He hands me a helmet, I mount the bike behind him, and we're off to visit Avelino Perez, coffee farmer, way outside Pucará, Peru, as part of my borrower verification.  We stop once for gas and again when the bike stalls three times and won't start.              "I told the boss this bike had problems," he grumbles, shaking his head.  He has a singsong... Continue Reading >>


Oct 19, 2015 PE Peru

Whenever I travel outside Western Europe, the most common reaction is, "Wow, that must be really hard!" as if the developing world were little more than an array of obstacles, challenges, frustrations, and difficulties--unlike the unfettered convenience and ease of everything in the good old USA.    Yet every time I settle back into the American Dream, I find myself pining for any number of things that were easier or better elsewhere.  But when I describe most foreign countries as "convenient," people look baffled.  So here are some examples:...

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Sep 30, 2015 PE Peru

Proud papa of profitable plants
Shortly before leaving for my Kiva fellowship, I had an iced coffee so good that I thanked the barista.  Today, I got to thank the man who grew the beans--not the actual beans, probably, but the kind of high-quality beans that must have gone into such a drink.  Experts say that while Peru doesn't produce nearly the quantity of its famous neighbor, the quality of its coffee can be even bettter, in part because production is on such a small scale, mostly on tiny family... Continue Reading >>


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