Hello from Haiti! My name is Kelsey and I am currently staying at La Concorde and working at the primary school teaching English and computer classes. I am also teaching English lessons at the local university two evenings a week.
My journey to Jacmel began a little over three weeks ago after the Wilkerson family first introduced me to Love Takes Root and shared this wonderful opportunity with me. After recently completing two years in an AmeriCorps program, I felt passionate about continuing to pursue service opportunities. I couldn’t be more thrilled to be embarking on this adventure and I’m thankful for how Barb, Dr. Rick, and Cara have been a support every step of the way!
From the moment I landed in Port au Prince and was introduced to the Bastian family, I have been met with overwhelming hospitality and kindness. The abundance of love at La Concorde is evident and heartwarming! I am having an amazing time getting to know everyone, learning about the Haitian culture, and exploring Jacmel. Although the language barrier poses different challenges at times, the Bastian family and children are helping me learn Creole and have very patient with my limited knowledge of the language, which I am very grateful for! Delva, Sephora, Deborah and James even hold little study sessions for me in which we exchange words in Creole, French, and English. Despite some cross-cultural confusion at times, finding small ways to communicate with the children and discovering their personalities has been incredible. Whether it’s pretending to be motos with Moise, playing hand clapping games with Gertrude, arm wrestling Claudison, or catching Indiana as she sneakily jumps into my arms, each of these little ones shine beautiful and bright.
Everything at the school is going well as I enter my fourth week of teaching. Elisee, the school superintendent, has been a wonderful resource as I acclimate to the new environment. I very much admire his compassionate nature and commitment to the education of the students! I spent my first week shadowing different teachers, playing with the students on the new playground, and learning about the school curriculum and schedule which was very helpful as I transitioned into my first classes. In computer class, also called “Infomatique,” I am working with the students in grades 3-6 on basic typing and computer skills on the school’s laptops. One of the teachers named Mr. Lesley is frequently in the class with me and he is able to translate basic instructions to the students which has been a great help! In English classes for grades pre-k to 6, we are learning new vocabulary, practicing basic conversational skills, and singing lots of songs. It has been a delight getting to know the students and the teachers, who have all been very welcoming!
The rest of my days are filled with lots of playing, singing, tickling, and countless games of tag with the kiddos until after dark. It has been so rewarding creating bonds here and having the opportunity to help. As much as I am here to teach and give the children support, I feel as though I am being given so much more. Often there is a small hand in mine guiding me to where I need to be, a little voice teaching me a new word or song, or a big laugh that makes me feel welcome in this new place. As each day brings new experiences, lots of love, and adorable smiles that fill my heart, I feel very fortunate for the opportunity to be here. I cannot wait to see what the next two months will bring!