People all over Haiti celebrated Carnival in February –but few had the chance to use the holiday as a learning opportunity. While most schools closed their doors to steer clear of the revelry, 148 students and 12 teachers from the Father Jeri School took a trip to Cap Haitien to experience their nation’s history.
A port city on the north coast filled with beautiful colonial architecture, Cap Haitien was the original capital of Haiti, and later, a key location in the Haitian Revolution. Wearing matching t-shirts, the students toured moments in history they’d only read about. They visited the Citadelle, a fortress built in 1805 by Henri Christophe, one of the country’s most prominent leaders. They stepped into Bois Caiman, site of the first major slave insurrection of the Haitian Revolution. And they stood on the ground of The Battle of Vertieres, which led to the independence of Haiti in 1803 — the first successful slave revolution in history. At the end of each day, the group got together to ask questions, share their thoughts, and reflect on their heritage.
Few American students get the opportunity to tour their nation’s capital, and in Haiti it’s even less common. It was the first trip to Cap Haitien for almost everyone – including the teachers. Even Madame Phillipe, who taught history at a very prestigious school in Port-au-Prince for eight years, was never given the opportunity to experience history like this. Now both teachers and students have a personal connection to these places, making the teaching more engaging and the lessons more meaningful.
With their amazing resourcefulness, our Haitian partner, Na Rive, was able to secure transport as well as free lodging at a local school. To cover the cost of meals, each family was asked to contribute 183 Haitian Dollars, or $2.65 US, but no one was turned away for lack of funds. Na Rive believes strongly in the role nutrition plays in education, whether the kids are in school or away from it.
Trips like this illustrate how the Father Jeri School is pursuing its mission to foster and inspire the next generation of Haiti’s leaders. At a time when others question the value of this country, your contributions are creating education, pride, and hope for the future.