Hello family and friends and welcome to our Haiti ABST (Alternative Break Service Trip) experience! We are so excited to have you along on the journey. Spring break may seem far off but we are working hard researching the Haitian culture, growing as a group, and starting to learn Haitian Creole, the native language. Gannon University's Center for Social Concerns has made this great opportunity possible.
In Haiti we will be partnering with Outreach to Haiti, an organization that bridges the gap between the United States and Haiti. We will be doing service at a variety of locations including a medical clinic and an orphanage for children affected/effected by HIV/AIDS. We are all ready to form a relationship with the Haitian people, make a difference, and have a life changing experience by opening up to a whole new world.
My name is Nicole and I would like to take a moment to introduce our Haiti Team Members. I asked each member, “Tell me a little about yourself and why you would like to go to Haiti?” The responses are displayed below! Along with Dr. Bomburger, Father Michael Kesicki, Gannon University’s Associate Vice President for Mission and Ministry will be accompanying the students on our trip to Haiti.
First, indulge me in some mama-gushing: I am the mother of a vivacious 9 year old named Maya who loves to sing, dance and read. She's a joy. She attends Erie Day School and so she makes the daily trek up from Meadville with me. The commute is a lot less stressful now that I spend it singing show tunes with Maya instead of composing an elaborate "to do" list in my head. My husband, Pat Bywater, shares Maya's and my quirky sense of humor. He is the editor of The Meadville Tribune, sharing my passion for writing, community engagement, and travel. He was the one bold enough to suggest that we move to Turkey for a year after I finished my PhD. The thought had never crossed my mind to live abroad until that time, but Turkey is an incredibly beautiful country and I am so glad that I had that opportunity. It also deepened my love of international travel.
I first started thinking in a more focused way about Haiti by reading the works of the memoirist/novelist Edwidge Danticat, a Haitian American who spent part of her youth growing up in Haiti and part of it in New York. I love her work because she helps readers picture people in a loving, good family who find themselves amidst political turmoil in Haiti and the U.S. Her work spurred me to read some non-fiction works to better understand the political and historical background to Haiti. So I’ve read a lot about Haiti, but I’ve never been there. As an academic, I love reading about things, but I also like doing. My classes often have experiential learning in them to help connect what we read to action steps. For instance, my students have created the http://greeneriepa.org site, a portal to all things green in Erie County, PA. If students are going to spend time writing pieces for me, I’d rather have those pieces have a positive use in the real world than just being read by me. Similarly, my background in African American literature has gotten me involved in the MLK committee and has encouraged me to have students do oral histories to connect lived experience with that in books.
Dr. Bomburger, Gannon University’s Honors Program Director
Hi, my name is Nicole and I am currently a junior Physician Assistant Major at Gannon University. Right now I am interested in labor and delivery, but I am looking forward to doing rotations in many different medical field areas to find what I like best. I am so excited to have the opportunity to go to Haiti and do service with children in this country. This will be my first ABST trip and I know that it will be an exceptional learning experience by opening my eyes to other parts of the world. I cannot wait to share this journey with the other members of our team!
Hello! My name is Cristiana. I am an English major hoping to be accepted to a law school. This semester I enjoyed expanding my love for photography. I also love relaxing with friends and occasionally rocking to some karaoke. (Sometimes I can't even tell the difference between my vocals and Taylor Swift!)
(Actually, that last statement might be slightly exaggerated.)
(Actually, it was probably verging on completely made up.)
I do still really love music regardless.
I graduate in May, and I could not think of a better way to end my career at Gannon than to serve in a new culture. I am so excited to be blessed with this opportunity.
Stay tuned! I know my new friends and I are going to have stories to tell.
My name is Leanna Gosser and I’m from Greenville, PA. I am a third year PA student and am considering specializing in geriatrics one day. I’ve always wanted to go on a trip like this and when a speaker came in to my PA leadership seminar to talk about the ABST trips, it seemed like the perfect opportunity! Through this experience, I hope to make new friends, learn more about myself, and discover different ways I can serve others and God. I am very grateful and excited to have the chance to travel to Haiti and be a part of an ABST experience.
My name is Tasha Antoine, I am a freshman at Gannon University in the legal studies program. I have always enjoyed learning about other cultures and helping those in need. I feel like this trip to Haiti will be a perfect learning experience as well as a reality check. I am half Haitian and half White, I have never been to Haiti but have always wanted to visit. I am excited to get those to every student in this group as well as the people that we will be helping. I am so ready to start our exciting journey to Port-au-prince.
Hey everyone, my name is Linden Lester and I’d just like to tell you a little bit about myself. I am a junior early childhood and special education major here at Gannon. I have a passion for working with kids and doing service and that is what has got me so involved in the ABST trips. I went to Guatemala my freshmen year and Mexico last year. I love adventure and experiencing new cultures so that is what intrigued me about Haiti. When applying for the trip I really knew nothing about Haiti. I figured with this experience not only would I be able to work with kids and do service, but I’d also get to learn a lot and experience a completely new culture. I am very excited for this opportunity and can’t wait to spend a week in Haiti.
Hi guys! My name is Kaylee. I am currently a junior physician assistant major, and that is part of the reason I want to go to Haiti. In my future I want to be a physician assistant that specializes in pediatrics. Going to Haiti we will be working with children affected the HIV and AIDS. There is no better way to expand my horizons then going to Haiti. Haiti will give me insight to other healthcare systems then those in the United States. I will get to experience different cultures, learn from all different interactions, and help to the best of my ability. I cannot wait to interact and learn more about these children. Not only that, I am excited to get to know the group of people I am traveling with and create lifelong connections with them!
Hello everyone, my name is Tyler Beers and I am a Junior Physician Assistant major. This will be my third ABST at Gannon, but my first time leading one! I am very excited for the opportunity and feel very blessed to have a wonderful co-leader in Patrice helping along the way. I really am a person who loves to be busy, I am involved with a number of activities in campus including clubs, organizations, and jobs. I am a second-year RA in Finegan Hall and I just started a tutoring job with the Go College! Program at Strong Vincent High School. On campus, I am involved with Habitat for Humanity, Honors Student Advisory Board, P.A.T.C.H.E.S, and a physician assistant club known as GUSPAS. In my free time, I really enjoy running, playing racquetball, golfing, fishing, hunting, reading, and just about anything outdoors. I have the unique situation of being able to return to Haiti after I went there as a participant last year. It was a truly amazing experience and so it was a no-brainer that I would apply to lead the trip this year. The people I met there have had an amazing effect on my life and I am very excited to have others share that same experience. I hope everyone will continue to follow our blog as we prepare for this transformative experience!
I feel blessed to be participating in my fourth and final ABST with such a dedicated and fun group of people! I am looking forward to being immersed in the Haitian culture for as Pope Francis states "culture embraces the totality of a people's life". As we learn and eventually live this culture I know we will all come away with a better understanding of how we are all connected and how that will influence our daily lives.
My name is Iziah and I am a sophomore Chemistry major at Gannon University. On campus I am involved in many clubs and organizations including Student Government Association, Chemistry Club, Art Club, and Delta Sigma Phi. I one day plan to work for the Government. This will be my first ABST trip, I’ve always wanted to accept an opportunity like this and give back to those in need. Accepting this trip to Haiti, I will be able to learn about different cultures and help those in need and most importantly have personal growth. I’m looking forward to this once in a lifetime trip that I will for sure not regret twenty years down the road. I’m truly blessed and ready to start this journey with this unique group of people!
Thank you all so much for you interest in our service experience! Your support and prayers are greatly appreciated.