Thursday, January 16, 2014
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Tuesday, January 14, 2014
Today will be our final full day in Haiti. We've all agreed that it was a fun experience, but we will miss it here, and I personally will miss it because I feel almost as cozy here as I do at home.
For the beginning of the end of our stay, we enjoyed a breakfast of pasta. During breakfast, me and Drew made a mistake. There was hot sauce on the table, and we covered our pasta in it, ignoring the label saying "One drop does it." We eacy ate a big forkful of sauce-laden pasta, which left us sweating and thirsty. We decided that listening to the label is a good idea.
After breakfast, we boarded the tap-tap we liked the best out of the two, Ebenezer, and went down to Cormier for a final meeting and delivering of donated supplies, and we said our goodbyes and departed to return to the hotel.
Upon returning, we settled in again and had lunch. After a couple of hours of resting and napping, we were up and began to head to our next fun community venue.
We went to a community music and dance event called Ayiti Vivan that was going on less than a minute's walk from the hotel. I had shown up a bit after the others because I wanted to get a bit of shuteye.
Upon arrival, I was surprised to see it so lively and energetic. After settling in with a few of the other delegates, we enjoyed the music and danced to particularly catchy songs. It was fun to me because I'm a music person, and having never heard Haitian hip-hop before, I was enthralled.
After roughly an hour or so, the singers who were friends of Ms. Penniman went on stage and sang some songs together, a couple of which we knew and sang along with. It was a great experience, and I'm glad I didn't pass it up.
We then returned to the hotel after we had been satisfied at the concert, and we had bonding time sitting around a table chatting. All in all, not a bad finale to our trip. It's been fun. Good night, and keep it real.
Monday, January 13, 2014
Sunday, January 12, 2014
Hey Drew here!
Let me just say that my time in Haiti has been absolutely amazing. We've helped so many people and put so many smiles on people's faces. We've done everthing, from going to schools and donating supplies, doing activities with the kids, and to providing compost and water to fields of mango trees and cherry trees. Its been insane.
But you've heard enough of this from the other students. Today was good. We started off the day with breakfast as usual and then we took a solid 4 hour hike I want to say. We visited a waterfall and cave (I love hiking so I was loving this trip). The cave had sacred markings in it because the cave was where the Haitians would run off to and hide from the people enslaving them and making them work. After the trip back from the hike we went to the community center for lunch and to hang out for a bit.
Lunch went about as usual. Amazing chicken, fried plantains, rice and some spicy slaw. After lunch is where things get interesting for me. I finished my lunch and in the middle of the plot of land the community center is on is a big tree, perfect for climbing. So I did what everybody would do and climb it. I go to pull myself onto a branch and "SNAP" the branch I'm using for leverage breaks. I fell just a short distance and scraped my elbow, but it's all okay no need to worry! But yeah that was my eventful lunch!
After lunch and after recuperating, we took part in comemorating the 4th year of recovery since the terrible earthquake in 2010. At the very end, we sang the first verse of the Haitian National Anthem, led by us, the students. Then everyone made their way back to the community center in song, and I know that this song is going to be in my head forever (thanks, Tonya).
Once we got back to the community center we watched a theater performance. It was all in Creole so us delegates had no clue want was exactly going on. Jenny and I, eventually made our own dialogue and it was pretty good. After this we had dinner and sat around in the dark enjoying some music and singing. We were supposed to stay later than we usually did but Fritz, the hotel owner, came with his van and we all left about our usual time.
And to end the day off, were all watching Jurassic Park 3. So I guess your all fought up for today, this was Drew and I'm signing off. Whos gonna be tomorrows blogger?? Don't change the channel everybody, well be back soon! Bye!
Saturday, January 11, 2014
After the meeting was over we had lunch. There was rice, chicken and plantains. Then after lunch once again everyone but Jenny and I went to care for the trees again, but this time we did arts and crafts with some of the children. We made animal puppets and a fishing polls and fish game. The game was that you had to try and attach the magnet on the string of the fishing poll, and stick it to the magnet on the mouth of the fish. So you basically "catch the fish". It was fun to see the smiling faces of the children when they played with their new tours or the glitter we used to make it.
After we finished this we all got back as a group and got on the tap taps back to the hotel. When we got back we had a great dinner of BBQ chicken, salad, and rice. After dinner Ben, Kayla, and I had a conversation about our Views of the world. Overall, I thought that today was a pretty great day!
Friday, January 10, 2014
After our breakfast of mangoes, oranges, papaya, squash soup, and passion fruit juice, we went out to the tap taps and headed to Komye (aka Cormier). When we got there we met a man named Reginal who taught us how to balance stones
Once we finished the stone balancing we went back to the Bigonet School and helped some more kids with the "friends of trees" pictures. While we were doing that, I also played with my best little friend, Evenel. I would draw him a heart and he would color it in. He is the cutest thing I have every seen and I want to take him home (so if I come back with a little Haitian boy, his name is Evenel).
When we were done helping the kids our friend Andre told us we should get some popsicles that were amazing, mine was mango flavored, and I loved it! Then we walked to get some fresh coconuts. A Haitian man climbed up a tree with a machete to get them and it was pretty impressive. I don't like coconuts so I gave mine to Emmanuel, the man who translates for us and a big part of the Komye community, his pretty cool.
After lunch, which was after the coconuts, we learned how to carve stones. There were rock shards flying every where, and I personally took a few to the eye, but I was not the only one. We each made different things. I carved a flower in a piece of stone and I am quite proud of it.
After we finished our stone carving, we went to help with the building of the mango drier. There were Haitian carpenters that were building the frame out of bamboo, so we were unable to help today, but will hopefully be able to tomorrow.
When we got back to the hotel, we ate dinner and then watched Jurassic Park with Andre, but we're interrupted for a "meeting". When I got out there I saw lil' Fritzy (son of Fritz, the hotel owner) lighting candles on a pineapple upside down cake. When I went to sit down Kaila, acting like a proper gentleman, pushed my chair in for me while people started to sing "Happy Birthday" in Creole. The Tech Valley students then sang it in Chinese, that's for you Hsia laoshi. Then Andre, who can speak, English, French, Creole, and Japanese said Happy Birthday in Japanese. I had a very culturally diverse birthday this year. A pretty good sweet sixteen if you ask me
Thursday, January 9, 2014
The group of TVHS students had a marathon of sustainability initiatives today. In the morning, we taught "Zanmi Pye Bwa" (friend of trees) classes in grades 7-9 at the Bigonet School. Wislerson, agriculturalist with the Mango Growers, was our co-facilitator. He gave a wonderful lecture on the history of deforestation in Haiti and the many benefits of trees. We then led a hands on activity where the students created trees from construction paper and labeled the leaves with the gifts that trees offer. We also honored the students whose trees were still living from last year's planting with a special pin and acknowledgement.
After a relaxed lunch outside of the health clinic, we got back to work. With wheelbarrows full of compost and buckets of water splashing over, we headed to the hillsides to care for the trees we planted last year. It was beautiful to see cherry trees almost as tall as my chin that were only 8 inches when we put them in the ground. The survival rate was incredible. Each tree was carefully weeded and received compost and a generous drink of water. I had a particularly good time wielding a pick ax and convincing the men through my endurance that it is possible for women to participate in the hard labor of farming. Libby takes the endurance prize for the students, probably shared with Thomas - as the Americans lost strength under the hot afternoon sun, those 2 charged ahead to find the young trees still in need of care.
It is beautiful watching this become home for everyone on the delegation. Emet has made so many friends despite the language barrier and spent most of the day playing tag and hopscotch and making obstacle courses. The high school students met Andre, fluent in both Kreyol in English, and willing to serve as a bridge between TVHS and the community. Young children climbed into the laps of Kaila and Jenny who welcomed them easily. There was lots of singing, laughter, belonging.
Today was orientation day - an overview of the educational system, health conditions, agriculture, and arts in the Komye Community. Of note was the fact that the herbal medicine walk covered only a few feet of the path due to an incredible density of useful plants with arms reach of the guide. For example, Pwa Kongo is an edible bean and the leaves are used for stomach ache, spiritual cleansing, and lead poisoning. We learned about a ceremony called Pilifere where singing and dancing accompany the pounding of dried herbs into a medicinal powder. Msye Difranz pointed out that while Haitian culture has a bad reputation in the media, its basic tenets - healing, respect, family - are shared with other religions and cultures.
After lunch, we had a combination of planning meetings and a dancing workshop. All of the student delegates made a valiant and sincere effort to grasp the subtle, powerful steps of the folkloric dance. Naima, Jasmine, and I tore it up, bare feet to dusty earth, big smiles. We made the necessary preparations for the health and dental clinics being held tomorrow, workshops on arts and sustainability in Bigonet School, mango dryer design and materials inventory, etc. The student delegates made instant best friends with young residents when they brought out the crayons and coloring pages.
Having worked hard all day, we still managed a late night meeting with the Mayor of Komye to plan for a huge performing arts event Tuesday evening in the town center. Dancers, singers, and actors from Leogane and from our delegation will collaborate to manifest this international tribute to beauty and resilience.
And so many magic moments in between...
A whole tap tap full of delegates singing and dancing on route from Komye to Leogane.
Children climbing together in the big tree, needing no language, save the language of play.
The student delegates already gaining an expanded perspective on the areas of growth of their own culture and society in the context of the global community.
After breakfast, we filled up our water bottles and hopped into the tap tap, a truck with a covered wagon in the back. It's like the We drove across a bridgeless river to the village of Cormier. We walked to the community center to meet and listen to presentations made by the leaders of different sections of the trip. We heard from the education, agriculture, health, and herbalist groups. (How cool is that?) The education leader spoke about how children do not have a lot of resources to get education because it's very expensive and any type of university schooling is only located in Port au Prince. The health group talked about the prevalence of teen pregnancy.
For both the agriculture and herbalism, we had field work (25cent TVHS word). We walked about 5 minutes to a mango tree field. This was so interesting because they were talking about whether or not the mango trees were actually helpful since they were planted so close too each other. When that happens, the mangos trees produce smaller mangos and less of them. They are working to figure out vegetables to grown in the shade of the mango trees. During the herbalist presentation, we toured a few buildings that had belonged to the best herbalist in the area and we learned about the rituals involved with this aspect of the culture. They also started picking up plants on the sides of the paths and talking about their properties. The best part about our field work was that they took us into this building made of glass bottles and concrete. It was so beautiful because the light shone through the bottles and lit up the inside. It was absolutely amazing.
When we returned to the village center we ate lunch, which was the same food as last night's dinner. We joined in dancing with the drums and boy, can we dance!!! I'm kidding. I could not get the feet and once I did understand the feet movements, they threw in arm movements. It was a lot of fun with a lot of smiles. After that, we relaxed by coloring, surrounded by dozens upon dozens of small children, all grabbing for crayons and papers. I really liked interacting with the children, even if we couldn't understand each other.
We left the village on the tap taps shortly after we finished coloring. We were briefly chased by the friends we made. Back at the hotel, I ate delicious salmon and veggies and with beans and rice. Now we are chilling with each other in one room. I am really looking forward to tomorrow and meeting new people and seeing yesterday's friends. Hurray!