Spring Break: Student Exchange

Over spring break, a portion of the Outreach Program trip came to Cange to work with Dr. McGrath, Johnathan Salazar, and I. One of the primary goals of this project is to facilitate student educational opportunities surrounding offset generation, and this trip piloting an educational partnership between Sewanee and the Centre de Formation Fritz LaFontant (CFFL). We had a fun trip, but worked hard!

Work: I think that everyone in our group would agree that the two and a half hour hike up  the mountain to Bois Jolie was a piece of work. This, ironically, was our half way point shade-tree. You know reforestation is needed when this is your best option!

Work: I think that everyone in our group would agree that the two and a half hour hike up the mountain to Bois Jolie was a piece of work. This, ironically, was our half way point shade-tree. You know reforestation is needed when this is your best option!

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FUN: The fun began immediately upon arrival in Cange when all of the ladies on the trip headed up the road for an ice cold Prestige (Haitian beer), which was much deserved after almost 24 hours of travel.

We had a fantastic group, including Peggy Farmer, who returned to Cange for the first time in over 20 years after living there for 6 months with her brother, Paul Farmer, Janice Thomas, school nurse at Saint Andrews Sewanee School, Sam Smith, Dr. McGrath’s son, Jonathan Salazar, who has been doing great work on this project from Sewanee but had not yet been to Haiti to see where all of his hard work would be coming to life, and a group of AMAZING Sewanee students who came through the outreach program.

Our group on our victorious hike DOWN from Bois Jolie after our first day there.

Our group on our victorious hike DOWN from Bois Jolie after our first day there.

The main goals of this trip were:

1) To pilot collaborative work between Sewanee students and Haitian students.

2) To construct a coffee nursery.

3) To conduct community interviews that will inform our data collection for farmer registration through the Plan Vivo Foundation as well as data collection for ongoing PES research and evaluation.

In this post I will highlight the collaboration between students from Sewanee and CFFL students. Every day on our two our hike to Bois Jolie we would pair up with our friends from CFFL and struggle through conversation, teaching each other creole and english. This was sometimes a laborious and exhausting task when lumped on top of a steep hike, we would start the day daunted but always got to the top of the mountain as group of friends. The first hike was perhaps the most difficult, as we knew the least creole at that point and none of us really knew what to expect. Maxo and Bosquet, ZA agronomists and fearless leaders of our group, proclaimed us “Zamni Cafe” created a song for us to sing together as we hiked to break the ice. Jonathan made an awesome photo to commemorate the song:

Zanmi Cafe Song

Zanmi Cafe Song

Each day in Bois Jolie started with a training where Sewanee students showed Haitian students how to take tree biomass measurements such as DBH (diameter at breast height) measurement, and height using a clinometer, and also explained the process of creating a map using a gps unit. Haitian students taught us about different species of trees, different agricultural practices we saw throughout the trip, and about how to translate our survey or ask questions differently in a way that would make more sense to farmers.

Ford, Linnea and Sega walk their group members through using a hand held GPS.

Ford, Linnea and Sega walk their group members through using a hand held GPS.

Johnathan

Jonathan Salazar explains how a clinometer uses trigonometry to measure the height of a tree from the ground at a set distance away from the tree.

In my opinion these photo’s say it all. As we left Bois Jolie for the last time, every one of us had particular CFFL students and community members that had become friends to tell goodbye.

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