It has been two weeks since I arrived in Hinche, Haiti and began my experience at ETE Camp. These two weeks have been filled to the brim with new experiences and lessons learned. The first week was one of adjustments. The heat here is unlike what I have experienced anywhere else. Even after living in the northeast of Brazil for six months. Although I prefer the heat to any other weather, it took my body some time to adjust to the constant heat of the Caribbean sun especially during the day or on long car rides. Food and mosquitoes have been another adjustment. Hinche is a small town a two hour drive through the mountains from Port-au-Prince and is calm and laid back. Our first interaction with the students was Opening Day when over 100 parents and children came to try to take part in this free and educational opportunity. We registered and met the 60 children that I would be working with and learning from the next month.
From 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., Monday- Friday nothing, including the mosquitos or the heat, matters besides the 60 wonderful, intelligent, creative, loving and energetic ETE camp scholars. A day in the life consists of Morning Motivation, breakfast, teaching three classes, lunch and an afternoon activity. There are four subjects being taught in one day: Math, Science, English Writing and Leadership and each teaching pair is off for one period. I have been co-teaching English Writing, and I have never met such eager to learn children who are so excited to be in school. They are always doing the best they can to learn as much as possible. Once in a while there are discipline issues to take care of as with any children but for the most part they are extremely well-behaved. The daily chorus of “Good Morning, Miss Amanda” has proven to always make me smile, as have the moments during meal times when the children sing their prayers in unison or someone grabs my arm and asks me to sit next to them.
The language barrier was another adjustment as I spoke no Creole and only some children spoke a couple of words in English. We have however come to an understanding and a rhythm of how to communicate without words or with the few we know of one another’s language. Both I and the students learn new vocabulary each day through interactions and in English class with Daily Words. In many instances words are not even needed to communicate as every child knows what a stern look means when they have done something wrong or what a smile and a sticker means when they have successfully completed a task. Through this they are also learning how to communicate with all people through a common language we all speak that doesn’t include words. Theses exchanges and their classes are contributing greatly to their growth into the leaders of Haiti and of the world that they all have an incredible potential to be.
Amanda Pereira ’15