Monday, June 18, 2018

Haiti - Day 7

By: Lili Abizaid, Liliana Dowling, and Kathryn Atkinson

Sunday was a bittersweet end to an emotionally strenuous yet moving week. We attended the service at St. Paul’s and had the opportunity to say our final goodbyes to some of the children we bonded with. Though simple, the church’s space was colorful, made even more vibrant by the voices of the people who filled it. 

After the service came to a close, we followed the children outside on a tour of their schoolhouses and saw firsthand the disparities between the learning environments at St. Paul’s School and SSSAS. The tour finished with yet another tearful goodbye, and we piled into the back of our van to make our way to the seminary. 

There, Father Markendy welcomed us with plates of fresh fruit, chicken, and rice. Just as the trip’s ending began to settle in, we suddenly heard children’s shouts coming from behind the wall near us. Turning our heads, we were welcomed by the same kids who had attended the church service with us, who had run from the church all the way to the seminary for a final goodbye. 

This gave all of us another chance to say farewell, and after eating lunch we piled into the bus yet again with a feeling of peace and closure.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Haiti - Day 6 (now with pictures!)

Haiti - Day 6

Timo Kirby and Kathryn Atkinson

Today was a relaxing day away from the seminary. We got the chance to process the emotional week that we had. After sleeping in, we all got an informative and moving tour of a sugar plantation. The plantation was beautiful and interesting, and we got to see and learn about what the slaves had to endure on this particular plantation. We even got to see the mill that they worked on and a peacock that roamed the yard. 

We spent the rest of the day kayaking, snorkeling, playing on the trampoline, and napping in beachside hammocks. We also had a group game of beach volleyball! We are all ready and excited to see, sing, and pray with the kids tomorrow at the church service.

Haiti - Day 5 (now with pictures!)

Haiti - Day 5

Today, we have some reflections from the students on the final day of the camp.  Pictures to come later.  - Editor

Today, my life was changed once again. As we walked into camp today, it was no longer us walking up to the kids to say “bonjou” or “kommen ca va,” instead they ran to us as we got off the bus with “love you’s” and “hi.” It was humbling to see each of the kids share their food, water, love, and endless kindness. I never thought I could go to a place and not be homesick, but Haiti has changed that for me. These kids have changed my outlook on life and have shown me love that I’ll never forget. 
- Jasmine

Last night the group was asked a question by Profe Gilbert: What do you want your last day to look like? Simple answer. I wanted everyone to be happy and for me to radiate all the positive energy I could whether it was reading a book, playing down by the banks, or coloring with the different paints. Today was the day to truly express my hopes. I remember I was chasing this little girl and we ran all the way to the edge of the property where all the older kids were playing music and dancing. The older kids sort of looked at us funny, but once I grabbed their hands and started dancing everyone became comfortable and laughter erupted amongst me and the kids. Looking back on this moment when everyone was enveloped in simple bliss makes me realize that no matter how difficult things may be there’s always music and friends-a light that reminds you to be happy and to just smile. 
- Gabby

Today at the seminary was heartbreaking. We all knew how the day camp would inevitably end but we tried to enjoy the last day together. During the day’s activities we teared up at the thought that this would be the last day with the children.  It was crushing to say goodbye to those people we came close to over the last four days. It was extremely sad to have missed saying good bye to some friends who I felt closest to.  The loss of these relationships, knowing that I have a small chance of seeing these kids again made me reevaluate the relationships back at home. This is because I’ve never had a significant loss, so this loss of kids after four days made me imagine how I felt about relationships at home.
- Jamal

One thing that is so special about our group is how involved we have vowed to be. In the meetings we had back at school to prepare for this trip we would have liked more insight from previous participants who traveled to Haiti. What I want to see from this group is living up to our promises to stay involved. We will make sure that next year’s participants understand the value of this service learning trip. In order for change to happen, the word of this work needs to be spread. We have to go back to The States and keep all of what happened in our memories and not forget how fortunate we are. The school selected a great group of young people to go on this journey of service this year.
- Ryder

Friday, June 15, 2018

San Salvador, Bahamas Day 5 - Photos

San Salvador, Bahamas Day 5

Hey it's Jack and Marco, and this is our fifth day on San Salvador. Today I woke up to Caden's beautiful vocals after running out of his bug infested room. At 9 we packed up and went to French bay on the other side of the island. It was a long ride, but we played music and upon arrival we found out that the waves were very rough. It was a choppy snorkel and Garret enjoyed swimming through a rock tunnel. Everyone was scared of the thought of seeing a shark and Barrett was struggling to stay afloat. He persevered and made it out of the water alive but was very tired and fell asleep on the beach while we ate lunch. We saw a giant Parrotfish in shallow water that had vibrant colors. We then came back to the Gerace Research Centre and played one of our daily basketball games. Barrett nearly passed away during the basketball game trying to keep up with Mr. Dodd's sick moves. [Photos!]

Haiti - Day 4

By: Sylvie Weiman

Today, we arrived at the seminary ready for a day of laughter, play, and English lessons. We started with our normal routine of greeting the children, gathering supplies for our lessons, and waiting for the kids to finish their breakfast. 

At 9:30, our normal gathering with the children, for whatever reason, just didn’t happen. In unspoken agreement, we all spread out around the seminary yard, some of us with books, some with chalk, and some with whiteboards. I began to read a book about soccer to one boy and before I knew it there was a crowd of about ten kids straining to look at the pictures and listen to my reading. 

In these more informal lessons, the children could take control of their own learning. They were not forced to be in a specific group or learn a specific set of vocabulary. With some of the older kids, I used my pocket Creole dictionary to explain common phrases and questions. The dictionary, instead of solely benefiting me, became a great teaching tool. This reflects the way that these kids are teaching us just as much (if not more) than we’re teaching them. 

It was so cool that the kids got the opportunity to take initiative for their own learning. Although today didn’t go exactly as planned, we all agree that it was the best day yet, and we hope we can carry the same energy into our last day.