(May 24, 2012)
May Module students experience Haiti
SHREVEPORT, LA — Professors Chris Ciocchetti and Dana Kress along with a group of Centenary students spent the majority of May in Les Cayes, Haiti, for the 2012 May Module. The module is a month-long set of immersive courses available in a variety of academic areas. Many of the students attending the Module were from Centenary living learning communities Santé and Le Quartier Français.
Students learned first-hand about life within and near the orphanages of Les Cayes, a coastal city located on the southern peninsula of Haiti. Working with the children and staff of the Bigarrouse Orphanage, or The Big House, the Centenary group had the opportunity to not only teach the children but learn from them as well.
"The orphanages were better than I expected but worse than one can rationalize," said student Tia Landrum. "Parents send their children there to exponentially improve their quality of life. These children are more skilled and impressive than I will ever be in so many ways, and yet they will have limitations and health concerns that will prevent them from ever attaining their maximum potential."
A visit to the American University of the Caribbean left student Stephanie Boyd reflecting on the Haitians' unflagging optimism.
"I am humbled by the people of Haiti and the hope they seem to exude," said Boyd. "The students we met at the University are so proud to call themselves Haitians. In fact, when they talked about their ambitions, they relayed them within the context of making Haiti better. Regardless of the state of things, the Haitians love their country. There is a great sense of community here and of taking care of each other."
Beyond visiting historical sites, students also spent one day following the routine of a typical Haitian resident which included going to the local market to purchase fresh food and washing clothes by hand. The departure date on May 21 arrived all too quickly for the students who felt bonded to those they had met through the orphanages and their travels around Les Cayes.
"It does not seem that this is enough time to grow, but the experiences that I have had and the people that I have met have made a substantial impact in my life that I will carry in my heart forever," said Andra Armstrong. "I think I can speak for the entire group when I say that the end of our trip has come way too soon; none of us is ready to leave, and many of us are already making plans to return next year."
Students were asked during their trip to critically examine the relationship the United States and they themselves have with Haiti. The group maintained a blog, Centenary to Haiti, detailing what they saw and how they felt about the experience. Individual student stories and thoughts can be found at Centenary to Haiti.
By participating in a May Module, Centenary students fulfill their requirements for Trek, an innovative program through which all Centenary students participate in experiential learning by exploring opportunities in the areas of career, culture, and community.