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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.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

How a question in a Haitian public school led to a massive, crazy idea

The very first Haitian high school student I met on an exploratory trip to Cap-Haitien in 2013 was Doody.

I had just entered a large public high school, where 3,000 students went to school in the morning and another 3,000 students went to school in the afternoon. It was a chaotic scene as students milled through the hallways. I was the lone "blan" (Haitian Creole term for a foreigner, whether white or not). I guess I must have stood out.

One young man - Doody - approached me and somewhat shyly tried his English, “What are you doing here?” 

He didn't know it but that was actually an incredibly profound question. And it was the beginning of our English as a Second Language program which led to our teacher education program which has led to our multi-pronged, multi-generational model of teaching and learning in Haiti. 

Doody was in our first ESL class that year and has remained highly connected with our program. His own capacity to be a change-maker in Haiti has been highly impacted by his involvement in our work. And we have been much more aware of the challenges of those marginalized in this country as a result of his participation. Doody's parents live about two hours away in a rural community and he has lived in Cap-Haitien raising his younger brother and sister so they can go to school. Despite these challenging circumstances Doody has continued to pursue his goal to attend university.

Doody is now finishing his major research project in his final year at the public university in Cap-Haitien. Doody wants to be a psychologist and make a difference for the young people of his community. He is working hard to make this a reality.
Doody is on the far left of this picture, helping our Laurier students in the summer camp.

Our goal for the Educator and Leadership Institute? Train 1,000 teachers and 100 principals to impact 100,000 students in Haiti.

All as a result of a question in a hallway asked by an inquisitive and passionate young man.

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