As soon as we got to Haiti, we dove straight into work preparing for our hike up to Bois Jolie to meet the farmers. The plan was to distribute the carbon payments, take their photos for Zanmi Foto, and preview the economic survey.

The team of agronomists, interns, and Sewanee professors preparing to hike up to Bois Jolie. Photo courtesy of Professor Malde.

All semester I was so busy developing the economic survey, attending meetings, and studying for finals that all I could think about was my summer internship in Haiti. I never had time to fully comprehend the subconscious emotions that were waiting inside of me.

It was not until we reached Bois Jolie and I looked out into the courtyard filled with farmers, who were all lined up and excited to receive their carbon payments, that I was struck with this overwhelming joy. All my memories of seeing them for the first time on the 2017 spring break outreach trip rushed back. I had not realized how truly ecstatic I was to be back in Haiti contributing to the collaborative work that we do with the farmers.

Bois Jolie Farmers gathered together to have a discussion with Zanmi Kafe staff and Sewanee partners. Photo courtesy of Lucy Wimmer.

I remember how they were lined up the same way to greet us in the morning with their genuine smiles, the ones that reached their eyes and makes a smile unforgettable. They were preparing to take us to their farm so that we could take tree growth measurements. I was mesmerized by how welcomed I felt when they shook my hand and greeted me with a “Bonjou” (good morning in Kreyol). This partnership was continuing to prosper, and everyone knew how the process worked. They remembered returning members from Sewanee and they took photos of us. The only difference was that instead of the sun rising behind the trees, illuminating the green mountains in the background, it was very hot, sunny, and they greeted us “Bonswa”, or good evening, when we reached Bois Jolie this time around. I love that I was able to feel such warmth and joy being with the farmers again and realizing that I was back in Haiti.

Since being back, I have been able to reflect and learn more through past memories, appreciate every interaction, and give cheerful smiles to everyone. I look forward to building a stronger relationship with the farmers by conducting the economic survey and strengthening my Kreyol.

CFFL intern, Francique, translating the economic survey to engaged Haitian farmers with Crystal. Photo courtesy of Professor McGrath.

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