The new Education Center, our permanent domain in Deschapelles, Haiti, offers an inspiring space for our administrative staff to work with our scholarship students.
Educators in the region use the bright classrooms as a gathering ‘hub’ in which to share ideas. The computer lab and classrooms offer places of learning and growth. It is a positive place for the region where education is the focus. After 13 years in three cramped rented spaces, we decided it was time to build for the future and plant roots for growth.
On January 22, 2017, we opened the Education Center to support all aspects of education in the region and to house our administrative staff. This solar powered permanent domain offers 3 large offices, a computer lab with 10 stations, 3 large multi-purpose classrooms, and storage space for classroom books and supplies for our scholarship program. Since we opened, educators in the region have used the space to gather and share ideas and for teacher training programs. Teachers from the U.S. have engaged with teachers in Haiti to exchange ideas and partner in support of education. Teen-aged youth have engaged with Haitian youth in a mutually beneficial experience. The new multi-purpose space offers a wide range of possibilities from seminars of all kinds, summer camps for children, educational movies, tutoring, computer training, and our literacy program. We have noticed that people who come to the building do not like to leave. It is simply a positive place of hope and the community appreciates it. Currently, we are building a guest house that will provide safe, clean, and comfortable housing for many volunteers working at the Center. The guest house will open in 2018.
For university bound students, we offer computer training programs to assist them on the basic functions of the computer: how to word process, write emails, and create and use spread sheet programs, such as Excel. With the help of Pfizer, Inc., we provide each university student with a lap-top. With this prior training, each student enters the university with computer skills.
Education is a human right, yet 55% of Haitian adults are illiterate due to lack of education opportunities in Haiti. We applied and were granted the right to use the free literacy curriculum offered by the Haitian government. The curriculum originally was created in Cuba for a broad literacy campaign. Several years ago, this program was translated in to Kreyol, the native language in Haiti. We began literacy classes in the spring of 2017 with two classes of 30 each and 3 literacy teachers, who were trained by the Haitian government. The classes meet 3 times a week for 2 hours each class and the course will continue for 2 years. After this group is finished, we will receive 60 more adult students in our program.
Partnering with Teachers
Since our opening in January, we have offered opportunities for Haitian teachers to engage with U.S. teachers and with one another to share ideas, problems, and ways that may improve education in the region. With our multi-purpose classrooms, centrally located in the Artibonite Valley, we provide the perfect space to host seminars in education and teacher development programs. We plan to partner with U.S. colleges and universities to assist us with our teacher development program.
Seminars for Students
After successfully completing high school, we offer the opportunity for students to continue their education at one of the universities in Haiti or in a technical school program. In Haiti, a student needs to select a discipline as a freshman and go to the school that offers that course of study. To assist the students in choosing a discipline suited to their interests and skills, we offer an annual seminar that uses a multiple-choice interest inventory work sheet that creates results that match skills to careers and helps them establish goals for the future.
We also offer a seminar for university bound students who are moving to Port-au-Prince (60 miles south). Current university students and alumni share their experiences in Port-au-Prince at the many universities. The in-coming freshmen ask questions, receive good advice, and build connections with one another.
Career bound students know that fluency in English is a very much needed skill. English is taught in secondary school, but students need additional help and practice. We offer English classes for upper level students and for those waiting to go to university.
Searching for a job after graduation from university and technical school is a real challenge. We offer a seminar that talks about preparing for a job interview, resume writing, and searching in general.
Sex and Health Education
Every two years, we offer a sex and health education seminar for scholarship students ages 15 and older. This seminar focuses on sexually transmitted diseases, HIV/Aids, and family planning.
Youth Exchange Programs
The Center along with guest house (to be opened in 2018) offer the opportunity for young people to engage with Haitian youth in a transformative and mutually beneficial experience. Over 50 young people (14-18 years) have traveled to Haiti to offer programs for Haitian youth of all ages. The students offer arts and crafts programs, play sports, help students with their English, volunteer in schools and enjoy the rich culture of Haiti. This program offers a great way for teenagers to become engaged in the problems of the world, especially in developing countries.
We are in the planning stages of organizing summer camps for children. Inspired by the success of our Youth Exchange Program, our goal is to provide an extended experience for the children of Haiti and to have volunteers assist us in these programs. The camp will focus on a certain theme, such as legos or robotics for older children, or the arts, such as crafts, dance and music, or perhaps a science/nature camp, where children learn to appreciate their environment.