Haiti stands out as the only Caribbean island originally colonized by France. Most of Haiti is undeveloped and mountainous.
In January of 2010, an earthquake registering a 7.0 on the Richter scale demolished the country, even crippling Port Au Prince, Haiti’s capital city. 25,000 were left dead or injured, and a million having to deal with extreme economic loss. Government structures, public buildings, and hospitals were damaged, not to mention much of Haiti’s social structure and its educational infrastructure.
In efforts to rebuild the economy, Haiti strongly supports English language learning, although French is their national language. The objective of the 2012 IYF English Camp in Haiti is to deliver hope and the heart of God to Haitian people still suffering from the earthquake.
US English Camp recruiters met a Haitian student, who gladly and thankfully accepted the pamphlet. The student stated, “Learning English in Haiti is a rare opportunity, and the fact that you are holding a camp like this makes me very thankful.” A total of 320,000 pamphlets and 8,000 posters were distributed in the US to recruit volunteers for the English Camp.
Charles Baker of New Jersey expressed a lot of interest in the English Camp, and later revealed he was a former Haiti presidential candidate. Baker later made a request to the mayor of Delmas, Haiti to have the city sponsor the English Camp. He also made a personal call to the OIM Corporation for assistance with meals and sleeping quarters. 8,000 students have already registered in 4 different schools for this English Camp.
English Camp orientation kicked off on June 6th at 8:00 AM in 4 different locations: Delmas, Lycee Horatius Laventure, College Inter Familia, and Lycee Benoit Batraville, the latter located in Port-Au-Prince. 3,000 students and 200 volunteers were in attendance.
The first host school was the Fema School located at the peak of the Delmas mountain. It was reported that numerous volunteers experienced car breakdowns and poorly paved roads in transit, which made their trip very difficult. The 500 English Camp volunteers became subjects of the wide-eyed gazes of amazement from native elementary and high school students. Volunteers even turned their heads to avoid the flashing lights from those taking pictures.
Nonetheless the volunteers said “Alo”, which means “Hello” in French Creole. Young students paid especially close attention to the foreign volunteers, touching their hair and skin out of curiosity. These were physical qualities they were seeing for the very first time. We could feel their hearts gradually opening to us.
The orientation began with 24 classes designed to meet the various levels of the students. They familiarized themselves with their teachers and it was a very busy time. The volunteer instructors distributed passport-style guidebooks that would navigate the next four days of the 1st IYF English Camp in Haiti.
A few students weighed in on their English Camp experience so far:
“This is the first time attending an English camp, but I expect some great things here. I want to try to learn as much as possible during this English camp, especially English and dance.”
-Erica, 18, Fema School
“There are not many people who know English in Haiti. It is great that this opportunity has come here. I attended this camp because I want to learn English.”
-Mayville, 20, Lycee Horatius Laventure School
“I am so happy and blessed that I am able to attend this English Camp.”
-Pierre Anderson, 16, Codano
Although there is a clear communication barrier between the students and volunteers, the belief is that we will become one in heart through this experience. Everyone has one thing in common so far: we have hope that the grace of God awaits us on this first day of the 2012 English Camp in Haiti.