These two pictures speak volumes about where I began and where I am heading in terms of supporting education in Haiti.
The BLANC teaching the Haitians
The HAITIAN teaching the future generation of HAITIANS!
The first picture was taken in June of 2013 on my first trip to Haiti. I worked with elementary school -aged boys and girls that were raised in a orphanage. The second was taken in June of this year, at a safe house for street kids who have essentially raised themselves until coming there.
Why do the two speak volumes? Well, in the first picture you can see me, "the BLANC" teaching these children. In the second picture you see a young Haitian man teaching. This young Haitian man, Josny Joseph, my "Haitian son" was living at the orphanage in the first picture in 2013. He has since "aged out" of the orphanage, found housing, sponsors, and now has a JOB teaching elementary school aged boys thanks to the Work Force program at Streethearts!
When I set out on this Haitian adventure, I had no idea what to expect, how I would serve, or how I might make a difference. These two pictures validate that I made some headway. My goal was not to go in and "fix" a broken system. My goal was to share my skills with Haitians who could in turn share those same skills with other Haitians and "pay it forward" in a sense. It took me four years to make this happen, but this summer trip was definitely a turning point.
My Summer Agenda in a nutshell:
- Presenter @ Haitian Teacher Conference, Projects for Haiti
- English "Supervising" Teacher "Haitian Student Teacher #1, Marckendy"
- Elementary School "Supervising" Teacher to "Haitian Student Teacher #2, Josny
- Educational Evaluator of students never attending school
- Home visits and Field trips
Projects for Haiti Teacher Conference
In late April, A colleague sent me a memo about a teacher conference in Cap Haitian that provided professional development to local teachers. Since the dates coincided with my time already volunteering in Haiti, I inquired for more information. This conference was to be delivered to 200 Haitian teachers, and the general theme was Best Teaching Practices. I signed on, paired up with a fellow educator and prepared to present on the topic of formative assessment. Over three days, my colleague, Brenda Cohen and I shared our decades of experience and how it could be applicable to a Haitian classroom. Here are a few glimpses of what we were able to share.
Me, in the moment, discussing a formative assessment technique
This picture of the TravelingRoths (an example of formative assessment) was used so many times during the presentations.
English Class with the High Schoolers at
The older boys at Streethearts were fortunate to have English class twice a week this summer with Marckendy Joseph, another young man I can call my "Haitian son". I met Marckendy at an orphanage in Saint Louis du Nord four years ago. At the age of 18, he and any other 18 year old orphans were forced to leave even if they were not equipped with the basic skills needed to start life own their own. I am happy to report that four years later he is doing so well. He is part of the Work Force program at Streethearts, teaching English, and is provided with a salary for his efforts. I helped him to plan lessons and provided teaching techniques he could use for teaching English. The boys were very happy to share what they learned by speaking to Linsey, the CEO of Streethearts, and more importantly their Manman as well as to speak English to American visitors.
Health, Hygiene, and Devotions with the "Smalls"
Streethearts has seen a recent influx of younger boys ages 5-10 that need a special kind of attention. Fortunately I suggested a young man that has a passion for working with young kids and had been doing so at his church in Saint Louis du Nord. Josny Joseph, who I mentioned at the beginning of this post was just the right man for the job. He was responsible for ensuring that the "smalls" brushed teeth, bathed, and cleaned their rooms properly. He also provided a devotional lesson and taught English and French skills. He like Marckendy is also provided with a salary and is part of the Work Force program.
The "Bon Bagay" AKA, Everthing Else
French Basic Skills Assessments of boys recently off the street
Budgeting Class with the Work Force Boys
Field trip to a local Museum
As I look back on this incredible experience I thank God and everyone in my life that made this experience possible. I went to share my skills as a teacher, a mother, and a friend. I walked away with so much more. I spent a month with boys that have survived unimaginable circumstances and risen above them. They have hope, determination, and a sense of faith I cannot find words to describe.
They tested me, taught me, loved me, and accepted me as a "regular" that they know they will see again soon. Thanks for rocking my world, Streethearts! Until next time...
Sunrise from my balcony, Rivale, Cap-Haitien, HAITI on my birthday! 7.13