From Co-Workers to Friends

I would like to shine the spotlight on the agronomist team that lead our group in our cooperation with the farmers weekly. They aid us in communication and training with the farmers and have been pivotal contributors to the program. They continuously hike up to Bois Jolie and Mourne Michel year-round to continue evaluating the farms. I admire their stamina both physically, to hike about 20 miles a week on multiple mountains, and mentally to maintain the compelling relationship with the farmers.

It has been my honor to work with such a family-oriented team. Watching their fond interactions with one another has helped my daily hikes to our destinations enjoyable and bearable. They motivate me to keep pushing myself to hike at a constant pace despite of the heat that can be a nemesis on certain days. They will never know how much their jokes, laughter, and ability to sustain playful attitudes throughout these difficult hikes have helped me persist. Then when we reach our destination and have completed our work for the day, we decompress together.

Connor, Crystal, Jacques, and Ephesian taking a silly photo during a break coming down from Mourne Michel

I have enjoyed every opportunity getting to know them individually. The language barrier is one that can be surmounted quite easily, because we are all genuinely interested in getting to know one another. Thankfully there are people in the group of agronomist and interns that can translate for me to continue these thoughtful conversations rather than having it be a charade. Their patience in teaching me Kreyol and supportive nature through my trials and error of speaking has been very comforting. Many of the agronomists well make sure to speak slowly to me and enunciate so that I can practice responding to them. They are spreading that sense of community and reaching out their hands to me.

While at the schools of Bois Jolie and Mourn Michel after these long days of work, we have gathered together to sing, be entertained by the swings, play a card game called Casino, play dominoes, and share conversations about our experiences. Just this past week in Bois Jolie my new friends and I enjoyed each other’s company through music.They had just finished teaching me the meaning of the song “Ayiti Se” by Mikaben in order for me to practice Kreyol. I love to sing so I was excited to sing songs such as “A Thousand Years” by Christina Peri and “When We Were Young” by Adele because my new friend, Thony, had songs such as these downloaded on his phone to help him practice English. For the rest of that night I was getting defeated mercilessly in the card game Casino.

Thony, Jacques, and Crystal (from left to right) singing songs while waiting for the storm

The previous week in Mourne Michel, one of the farmers graciously brought out the swings for us and we all got to fly in the air like children once again. It was thrilling to revert to preschool days and simply grin while we defied gravity. Lastly, I have a profound respect for the great distance that they travel daily in order to get to work. I am in awe of their dedication and determination. Like everyone, they all have different challenges they face but you would not be able to tell, because they are so enthusiastic when we are all together. They simply make the most of every moment.

Chris and Ephesian blissfully swinging

I am grateful that we have been able to share stories, enjoy meals together, and learn from one another. I will continue to cherish this sense of family, compassion, and inclusion that helps us do this meaningful work. I am glad I get to work with this team full of charismatic, altruistic people and to rejoice in our triumphs together.

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