Building Terraces…and Bridges

Today marks the last day of field work during our visit in Haiti. The occasion was celebrated in Bois Jolie with a kombit, a large feast with all of the farming families, the agronomists from CFFL, and our Sewanee group. As I sat there with my heaping plate of rice and beans, exhausted from just having returned from a particularly sweat-inducing survival survey, I took a minute to reflect on my time here.

I think I can honestly say that this has been the most physically and emotionally challenging five-week period of my life. It seems that every day brought about at least one thing that pushed me out of my comfort zone (in all fairness, I’m not known for having a particularly large comfort zone) – from trying new foods to questioning beliefs I’ve held for most of my life.

Ultimately, what struck me most during my self-reflection was how important the connections I formed throughout this trip have been. I believe I learned a lot about connections from the farmers in Bois Jolie. The first time I saw them gather to build terraces on one person’s farm, I was shocked. It was an act of selflessness that I rarely see in my day-to-day life. This teamwork was very efficient and what would have taken one farmer many hours to complete took us all about an hour.

Our Sewanee team, I realized, functions very similarly to the farmers. We have all played varying, and sometimes disconnected, roles throughout this visit, but together we have accomplished a great deal of work. Additionally, I realized that all of these people I have connected with have been crucial in turning my little moments of discomfort into pleasant learning experiences. Unfortunately, I will not have the opportunity to come back to Haiti with the Zanmi Kafe program, but the meaningful experiences I have had will surely stick with me for many years to come and I have many people to thank for this.

Community members in Bois Jolie gathering for the kombit.

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