"Welcome to the United States"
A bittersweet, sentimental statement as Team Haiti returned home. Excited to return to our beds, reuniting with our friends, and sharing our stories, we prepared ourselves for our layover at JFK. Finally, around 2 a.m., we returned home to Gannon, and the journey to re-immerse ourselves into our American culture with the invaluable lessons we learned in Haiti.
After a week of experiencing love, wisdom, and community our lives changed in what I thought would be a typical "service trip" but this immersion trip revealed more wisdom and gave fruit to powerful experiences has made a lasting impacting on each of our individual lifestyles.
Beyond what we learned about Haiti's culture and the love of the people present there, we learned and experienced the undeniable power of the individual, despite horrific circumstances. The history of Haiti seemed like story after story of a country taken advantage of and exploited, but the resounding characteristic of all these stories and their entire history was their perseverance. Continually, throughout the trip, we heard the same statement by Haitians in the city all the way through the mountains: "Haitians are strong. That is why we do not give up, because we are strong."
Throughout our experience, we focused upon the issues of poverty, exploration of human integral development, and, eventually, explored the possibilities we as individuals must do in our part in a solution against poverty. Immersing ourselves in Fond Tortue, hiking the mountains of Haiti, and even our long, long car rides contributed to our understanding of poverty and how to battle the fight.
Constantly reflecting on this experience for a few days, I'm still at loss of words for our trip and experiences. Our trip has inspired us to move into action mode, to make a change for our lives, our campus, and our worlds. Whether it was playing soccer with the Fond Tortue community, hiking up the mountains with the children of the village being our tour guides, or Kim sharing her wisdom and life experiences; every part of the trip brought its own, unique growing revelation.
A lesson that can definitively be said about our experience is that the issues surrounding Haiti and poverty, or even just Fond Tortue cannot be solved in a week during spring break. Instead, our experience led us to the realization the real help and impact we can make for Haiti is how we choose to live our lives here in America. The unspeakable bond created between our group must be salvaged and expanded upon so others can also share in the intimacy and solidarity through our experiences and choices. Part of the help comes from sharing, but a strong part of this trip is carrying this experience to lead us to be more aware of our decisions and fight against injustice.
As we are returning to our daily lives, stressing over exams, and being college students our team has dedicated ourselves to add in the fight against poverty as well. We aim to make change on Gannon's campus by supporting Just Haiti and their endeavors, while expanding Just Haiti's mission to our own on campus and in our individual lives. Team Haiti looks forward to working together as a group and sharing our individual experiences, stay in touch and there will be more to come!
Thank you for your thoughts, prayers, and support,