Student Reflection-Haiti Outreach Trip 2017

Prior to going to Haiti, I felt over burdened with school work and other extra curricular commitments. Each day felt like I was just existing in between obligations. I don’t know that I was fully ready to go, time just passed until it was time to depart. I was present on the surface in that I completed tasks, but that was it. I am someone who survives with a certain amount of stress as a mechanism for motivation, so I was totally wrapped up. Being in Haiti felt kind of like being able to breath again. Each day it was satisfactory to just be present, and get done as much as possible according to the sun. It was refreshing to see such a pure form of satisfaction with the farmers, they were happy to just be with one another and grow their crops. One farmer walked around when our two groups came together, excitedly shooting photographs with his plastic blue camera. He was moving about snapping photographs before he would lead students back to his home and show them his crops. At first it felt like we were significantly outsiders just present to see his work, but the smile on his face made me feel less like an intruder and more like a guest.

It was really pleasant to do things and feel fulfillment in the present. When hiking to Morne Michelle the end goal was achieved in the short-term, and we got the view in return. Often at Sewanee satisfaction is delayed or even non-existent. It is also easy to distance yourself from really being present via looking at your phone to evade uncomfortable interaction; however confrontation of these uncomfortable situation increases self-awareness. Walking around the hospital, stepping around the women sleeping on cardboard, flies moving from one woman to the next; as the guide was telling us about how state of the art the building’s technologies were. We were forced to confront the room full of people sitting on donated pew benches with children spilling over on their laps, blank looks on their faces. These are all instances of which I become hyper aware of my thoughts, words, even the way my feet carry me forward. These are important instances because in most other environments I am seemingly in the majority, socially and economically.

This was a short trip, but it was extremely nice to have the luxury of being able to stop and think, admiring all the beautiful foliage that Haiti encompasses. We are back now on a different central plateau, as the year winds down I’ll try to sit back and enjoy spring coming to bloom.

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