In Haiti, when you ask students what they would like to be when they grow up, they always answer, “a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher.” This proved to be true when I asked 60 students this question in the first week of Empowering Through Education (ETE) Camp. After reflecting on why this might be, I came to realize that most of them say these careers because they are pretty much the norm in Haiti. These are the careers students are aware of. At ETE Camp, we believe that it is important to teach these students about other career paths.
Now, when I ask the students what they would like to be they don’t all say, “doctor, teacher and lawyer”. Students chime in with jobs like, “engineer, business woman, agronomist, professional soccer player, and neurologist”. In addition, they’ve started to see themselves as leaders. They understand that they have a sense of responsibility to serve their community by contributing to its development. ETE Camp over the past 9 consecutive years has been forming youth to become leaders in Hinche, Haiti. Although that doesn’t erase the fact that certain students still don’t have access to a quality education; it empowers these young people to fight for a better education for themselves and their peers.
ETE Camp creates the momentum of producing leaders in the Hinche community because of the support of many individuals. Each year many people from the US volunteer at ETE Camp. Now, we have over 40 counselors who teach during the program. Teaching at the program not only benefits the young leaders in Hinche, but also it benefits individuals like me who volunteer. Many counselors who volunteer are English teachers in the United States, often they teach English as a second language. At ETE Camp, Creole is the dominant spoken language but our counselors teach English, Engineering, Leadership, and Mathematics. They gain perspective on how challenging it can be to learn a second or third language and can apply this to the struggles that immigrants might face when starting school in the United States of America while learning a new language. The experiences staff have at ETE Camp usually shape the way they teach students when returning to the US.
To sum it up, ETE Camp creates an opportunity for youth to learn how to be leaders. It gives students the confidence to think outside of the norms when choosing a career. It opens a door for people like me to make an impact on individuals I would not meet if it were not for the camp. The smalls steps ETE Camp supporters take, help us to accomplish something great and help students SUCCEED!