About Me

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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.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Making a Positive Impact, One Step at a Time

Throughout our meetings in Haiti, our team is constantly navigating our big dreams while respecting the need for concrete, actionable, next steps. Today was an example of the struggle to achieve this balance in our continued school visits and through our conversations.

This morning, our team met with a number of leaders from the State University to not only express our own areas of expertise, but to discuss how these can align with the identified priority areas of the university. Our conversation eventually focused on actionable, collaborative, next steps towards online learning, ESL programming, and professional development for educators at the State University. One of the most exciting outcomes of this meeting was an agreement made between Wilifrid Laurier University’s Steve Sider, Nova Southeastern University’s Charlene Desir, University of Louisville’s Gaeteane Jean-Marie, and the State University of Haiti’s Elias M Nassar. These four individuals, across four universities and 3 countries, intend to collaborate on multilingual online learning modules – an impressive and innovative goal! Below is a picture of this group of four after the agreement was made.

As conversations carried through into the evening, we continued to contemplate the social issues that Haiti faces. The conversation ranged from the lack of women in educational leadership roles to the complex nature of Haiti’s economy and how to build a sustainable future that could help to mitigate poverty. When faced with these issues that have systemic roots, it can become overwhelming. In Haiti, particularly, this challenge can be magnified by the problem of sustainability and using what little time you may have in a meaningful way.

Two reminders from our team members offered solace in the face of this challenge. First, Pastor Caleb reminded the team that when given a window of opportunity, we must seize the time we have and do as much as possible within it. Furthermore, Steve reminded us of the Haitian saying “little by little, straw by straw, the bird builds it’s nest”. Certainly, we continue to find our own ways of contributing to this foundation upon which Haiti can thrive.

By Jessica Vorsteveld

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