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.

Friday, April 29, 2016

One student's journey to medical school: A beginning and not an end

Note added to original published blog: In the spirit of "ethical blogging", the following post was reviewed and approved by Samuel Charles, the focus of the post.

In the first year that we brought a Laurier team to Cap-Haitien, Haiti we met two young men who we have remained in close contact with since. Today, I am writing about the one young man (Samy) and I will share the story of the other (Doody) in a future blog post.
Steve, Doody, Samy - October, 2015
We met Samy when he was in his final year of secondary school. He attended a public high school and was later accepted into the state university. His family didn't have much money but Samy wanted to follow his dream to be a medical doctor. Lots of people have this dream but we recognized that Samy did indeed have the temperament and cognitive ability to pursue this.

Over the next two years, it became clear that studying at the local state university was not meeting Samy's needs. Classes were often cancelled when professors didn't show up or when the school was closed for a strike.

I encouraged Samy to consider applying to a university in Port au Prince with a reputable medical program. But how would he afford it? Samy lived in Cap-Haitien, a 5 hour trip from Port au Prince. Amazingly, I found out (through one of my Laurier students) about a scholarship that was provided by a Canadian organization to young people in Haiti who were pursuing medical studies. I contacted the organization and, after some materials were exchanged back-and-forth, they agreed to provide a scholarship that would cover his tuition IF he got into medical school.

This past January, Samy wrote his medical exams at Quisqueya University in Port au Prince. I have been to this university and know the vice-president and can attest that it is one of the best, if not the best, university in Haiti. Again, amazingly, Samy placed high on the medical examinations. He was accepted! The Canadian organization provided the scholarship and Samy began his rigorous, six days a week studies at the university.

A number of Canadians have been helping Samy pay the $200 Cdn he needs each month for accommodations and transportation in Port au Prince. He has to take multiple tap-taps (small buses) for about 1.5 hours to get from where he is staying to the university. And then back home again. Remember, this is 5 hours away from where his family lives and his family does not have the means to cover his living expenses.

Today, Samy told me that he had not been to school in two days because he doesn't have the funds for transportation. I was distressed by this. I know that this is not a situation of someone abusing "the system." He is a bright young man who could be a future doctor in a country in need of really good medical practitioners. He just doesn't have all the supports that a student typically would have in Canada or the US.

How do we ensure that Samy's entrance to medical school is not the end of the story? Your ideas are welcomed.

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