Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Haiti - 2015 - Day 3

(Editor's Note: Today's post is written by Giddings Harrison, a rising senior on our trip. She wrote the post once, but that first posting succumbed to a broken internet connection. Despite this, she was a good enough sport to write her thoughts down again. Thank you, Giddings, for sticking to it to produce a great entry!)

Bonswa! Giddings here. Right now, we are sitting under a cover during a massive thunderstorm. It's as if we are stuck in a tropical Sound of Music scene. Palmer, Sammy, Adele, and I have already sung "My Favorite Things" to add to the Sound of Music feel. Anyway, on to the reflection.

This morning we started with a traditional Haitian breakfast which largely consists of carbs and coffee at the hotel. We then left for the seminary for the day. Our van rolled up to the Seminary blasting "Uptown Funk" by Bruno Mars--for those of you who do not know the song, please look it up so you can get an idea as to how absurd our van seemed. The children had just finished eating their breakfast, which our fundraising allowed. They did not wear their uniforms today. Many of them had on Nike gear and High School Musical tee shirts.

We began the camp today with English lessons. Mary Grace and I teach l'equipe bleu, “the blue team,” which has 22 children ranging from the ages of six to sixteen. We taught them numbers and colors today by having them repeat after us and by coloring. Once they finished their coloring, we went on to teaching them "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes" and more of "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands." After, a few girls in my group wanted to take pictures using my phone. I taught them how to take pictures and they taught me a hand game. It would be safe to say that I now have 200 photos of me playing a hand game with one of the girls. Fortunately, by the time the gestural conversation and hand games became old, a dance circle had formed.

The dancing was vibrant, as expected. Much of the dances were call-and-response so we caught on quickly. These dances occupied a large group of primarily girls until lunch.

At lunch, I separated from the group of girls I was with before dancing. However, they managed to find me afterwards to play jump rope. There were two girls in particular who stayed with me throughout the whole day clinging to my arm. They became my helpers during arts in crafts while we made drums out of solo cups, tape, and stickers. They declared the role of taping the cups and handing them out to their peers.

Once the line for the drum-making station died down, the two girls and I moved on to painting. The paint was meant to be confined to the giant roll of paper, but it quickly spread beyond onto the walls, pavement, trees, and us. Sean and Josiah “misplaced” paint onto my face, which caused the children to follow their lead. Soon enough, children were grabbing paintbrushes to use to give me a blue tempura paint facial. Others were covering Adele, Josiah, Sean, Katerina, and Jenn in blue paint.

Once the paint had dried, we resembled blue monsters and assumed the role as such by chasing the children. The seminary was transformed into a chaotic game of tag. After the game, the blue sweat dripped from my face onto my clothing. The same two girls were upset by my uncleanliness. They began tugging on my sweaty shirt saying, lave, which means, “wash,” as they led me toward the ocean. Once I was in the water shin-deep, they began saying, couche, meaning, “lie down.” I resisted, thus they found an alternate method to wash me off. They began splashing my neck, shoulders, and arms with the salty water. Under their care, I knew I would be clean. When they were satisfied with their work, they walked me back to the seminary. One of the girls took my bandana to dry off my face. There was a raw compassion in that moment that I had not experienced before.

When the two girls left, they hugged me and gave me hi-fives as they said “Bye-bye, Giddings.” The day before, Father Walin had chastised them for calling us les blanches, a general (though not derogatory) term for “the whites,” but today they knew our names. They no longer saw us as just white. I went from being la blanche, to la bleue, to Giddings in just one day.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like an amazing experience. Thanks for sharing.
Jenny Weis

Unknown said...

Great post,Giddings! I almost feel like I'm there with you all. These kids will never forget you!

Unknown said...
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