About Me

My photo
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, April 21, 2016

A World Championship and a Group from Haiti: Intersections and Pathways

I’ve spent part of the past two days in Louisville, Kentucky helping a team from College Regina Assumpta, an all-girls school we work with in northern Haiti. They are participating in the VEX Robotics World Championship. It is a competition involving more than 600 teams from 35 countries. I would guess that more than 10,000 people are in attendance. It is an amazing spectacle to observe.
The Regina team including (L-R) myself, Dr. Allyson Watson (Northeastern State U), Samson (coach), our two Regina student participants, Sr. Yanick (principal), and Jhonel Morvan (co-leader of Laurier Educator Institute)
What is particularly amazing is that a group of four from Haiti – two students, a coach, and a principal – were able to get US visas to attend. They each paid for their own flights – over $700 US each. They brought the robots and tools that we had worked with them on when the program was initiated in October, 2015 – just six months earlier!

As amazing as the fact that the team got visas and was able to get the money for flights is the support that they have received to even make this a possibility. Teams of individuals have supported them by finding funds to cover the registration fees, arranging hotel accommodations, mentoring them on the robotics and coding involved, providing meals and refreshments, and cheering them on in every aspect of the competition. Much of this has been the vision of Dr. Allyson Watson who began working with us in Haiti a year ago and who you can see in the first picture above.

Two nights ago, 20+ people gathered at a colleague’s house in Louisville as we celebrated the fruition of years of work. Our host was Dr. Gaetane Jean-Marie who had found me nearly ten years ago through a Google search when she was looking for people engaged with educational leadership work in Haiti. I happened to be in Port au Prince at the time and we actually Skyped that very evening. Dr. Jean-Marie is originally from Haiti and has held leadership positions at a number of US universities. But she has never forgotten her roots and her desire to support capacity-building in Haiti. Since that virtual meeting, we have published articles together, written book chapters, and co-edited a book. She is certainly an inspirational leader (see my previous blog post!).
Dr. Gaetane Jean-Marie on the far left
There are so many aspects to the work we have been doing in Haiti that are simply breath-taking. Being at a dinner with young girls who have the potential to be future leaders in Haiti as well as those who are supporting the structures and capacities to allow that to happen should remind us all of the importance of having a vision and working together to accomplish that vision.

All this makes me wonder if we will look back in 5 or 10 or 20 years and see these "intersections" as critical "pathways" in developing the educational capacity of Haiti? I am optimistic that it will be so.

No comments: