This past week I had the opportunity to visit Haiti and work with a school near Port-au-Prince. I traveled there without any expectation of what my role was and very little understanding of how I might be helpful at all. I am a teacher – it is what I do best- I have not earned an opinion about the economy, politics or any types of solutions for Haiti. I went to Haiti as a teacher – there was a need for what I do – and I was happy to go to do my job.
Last year, I attended TIES in Minnesota where I met Steve Asper. Steve was presenting a poster session on the collaborative projects and interactions he had with his students in White Bear and the students at ANAC (the school that is run by the non-profit organization Kozefo).
This school is unique in the fact that they have access to technology (a class set of Chromebooks, WiFi and GSuite for all the teachers and students). I connected with Steve after his session and told him that I wanted to come to Haiti with him and meet his students and teachers at the school. Ten months later – with two of my incredible high school students and their parents – I got the opportunity to meet them.
We all spent the week exploring the beauty of Haiti while trying to make sense of what we saw. The friends we made were some of the warmest and kindest I have ever met. I am trying to come to terms with my own privilege and process how this experience changed my personal perspective of my place as a fellow human being on borrowed time.
There are many people who go down to different countries and many interpretations of how they should be received – I don’t know what the right answers are – but I do know that I have come back with a lot more empathy and understanding of how many people in Haiti live. I have looked into the eyes of a young mother who was in desperation to obtain water and food. I walked the same path a seven-year-old child boy named Lionel walks every single day – a treacherous path up a mountain for one and a half hours each way, all by himself, for the opportunity to attend school. I have spoken to many young women and men who just want the ability to work. I have also worked with some of the most brilliant and dedicated teachers I have ever met. They taught me so much more then I would ever be able to teach them. I am never going to forget them and my experience in Haiti. I look forward to coming back soon and further exploring the beauty of Haiti.
If you would like to learn more about the organization and how you can sponsor a student (which I highly recommend) at Kozefo go to: www.kozefo.org