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I have been an elementary and secondary school teacher and administrator. Currently, I am a faculty member in the Faculty of Education at Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. My M.Ed. and Ph.D. had a focus on the educational and linguistic experiences of children who moved from other countries to Canada.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Hope for Haiti`s Future--Making Meaning of Our Time in Cap-Haitien

On our last evening in Cap-Haitien, during our debrief, the group was asked to reflect on their initial motivation to participate in this partnership-building trip and whether the trip has satisfied this motivation. With many of us being first-time-visitors to the country, we walked into the experience with low expectations but open eyes and ears. The diversity of expertise represented in our group members was impressive. The common thread in all of our intentions was to experience Haiti with an open mind, and determine the possibilities of how we could contribute to its cause. For some of us, this meant exploring capacity building opportunities in education, for others this related to social entrepreneurship and the opportunity for local or collaborative enterprises.  

In the midst of this discussion, we were reminded of the age-old story of a boy walking along the beach and finding the dry coast littered with stranded starfish. As the boy began to pick up the starfish and throw them back into the water, his father remarked that there were too many starfish, and there was no way to save them all. Upon hearing this, the boy replied that though he knew he could not save them all, he at least would be able to save the few that he could, and that was enough.

In many ways, this approach is the only feasible way that we are able to collaborate with our Haitian partners. As we struggle to identify how our own skills and experience can contribute to these partnerships, we must also accept some ambiguity in how this will fit in the big picture. What can be agreed upon, is that investing energy in the children and youth of Haiti will open the opportunity for the future leaders of this country to make a greater impact than would be otherwise possible. As Steve said last night, this hope in the next generation is a representation of humanity at its most basic but universal level. There is something in it that restores your faith in what is possible.

At the end of the day, it is recognized that our most powerful ability as partners in Haiti`s struggle is not out own ability to change Haiti for the better, but to empower Haitians to lead and own this change themselves. As we head home to our lives in North America, each of us may not be able to articulate exactly how we intend to stay connected and support these initiatives in Haiti. What we can say for sure is that it has made an impact on each of us, and we continue to be interested in this connection, no matter how small our impact may be.

By Jessica Vorsteveld

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