During my time at ETE camp, I’ve really engaged with parts of myself that I didn’t know existed. To say I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone would be an understatement. In my time in Haiti, I’ve gained more insight into education but most importantly I’ve witnessed firsthand the necessity of communal transformation. There are many qualities that are accompanied with a good education, including qualified teachers, supportive parents and other adequate resources that’ll contribute to the success of the student. However, a very crucial but often overlooked portion of education is the help of the community. The community is what
held ETE camp together. The success of ETE camp wouldn’t be visible without communal interference. The community held all of us responsible for igniting the minds of their children and in return we received their grace and aid. We received their support in the little things such as neighbors accompanying us to the store or simply offering help whenever needed. This also included house maintenance issues we faced during our stay. This performance of community played a role when my supervisor was forced to leave the camp due to unforeseen circumstances. In this time, it was up to us and the Hinche community step up and run the camp efficiently in her absence. The community worked together to still facilitate graduation and final projects despite her absence. The community was able to run this program efficiently without direct oversight of the director. We were able to make all of their certificates, organize and clean the school, and operate breakfast and lunch on our own. One parent even volunteered to video record the entire graduation ceremony. I was so grateful to witness a community uplifting each other and maintaining a positive program made for their community.
Honestly, this internship has left me with more questions than answers as far as my career goals. However, there a few things I can see myself doing after graduation. Primarily, I can without a doubt see myself working with kids. At first, I was pretty certain working with younger kids would require too much emotional and physical labor. Though, by the end of the program, I couldn’t stay away from them. Working with them has given me patience and so much compassion. With that being said, I see myself working for Teach for America. Almost all of my co-workers have worked with Teach for America and described their experiences as nothing less than extraordinary.
For anyone who would like to work with educational nonprofits, I would tell them to always remain ready for improvisation. I tend to thrive in comfort and structure and working in Haiti has shown me that I am capable of bending and making it work. I didn’t believe I had this quality to improvise without leaving students behind. Another thing I would tell them is that, one should always conserve resources. There is rarely a surplus in school supplies and other resources. Save everything! You never know if the budget will be as big as the organization would like. The money needed for that fiscal year will not always meet the demands of the organization’s budget. Donations and sponsors are crucial to the maintenance of the program as these programs offer free services for their community.
The thing I am most proud of however is facilitating a poetry workshop for the students at ETE camp. They created their own acrostic poems in English and Haitian Creole. Their poems composed of adjectives and positive affirmations that described them. I felt that it was crucial for students to be able to express themselves both in English and their native tongue. This project benefits the organization because we are now able to use the student’s work as an incentive for donations. I was so happy to contribute and share the veiled brilliance of my students.