Sunday, March 15, 2009

Gonaives, DC, National Palace...

So the last time I 'blogged' was in January. That was 2 months ago. I'm good at updating be sure to add me on there if you haven't yet. So what have I been up to the last few months? Well, I finished the school's yearbook with my students, visited Gonaives, took 6 students to Washington DC, took 21 students to visit the National Palace in Haiti, hung out with Johnny on his quick 3-day visit to Haiti, and recently had an all-night campout with 75 middle and high school students.

So here is a summary of everything from the past couple of months:

I went to Gonaives with Pam because her brother works with an NGO out there involved with disaster relief. Gonaives was severely damaged by the hurricanes this past fall and recovery has been slow. It was neat to be able to visit another part of Haiti and to see the efforts of so many people working to get the city back on its feet. We toured projects that the UN and IOM were working on and saw the damage left from the storms.

The trip to Washington DC was exciting because my students and I were able to get an inside look into the US government. We met with an official from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who talked with us about how the US is working with Haiti. The students learned a lot and were able to see how open our government really is. We visited museums, the Library of Congress, monuments, and were able to sit in on the House in session. Hopefully the students will learn from the experience and become more engaged in their own government.

In fact, I was able to take my government class to visit the National Palace (Haiti's White House). We took a tour of the palace and met with the Secretary General and learned a lot about how the Haitian government works. We also visited the national museum and saw some neat artifacts from Haiti's past. The students loved seeing the personal belongings of their revolutionary heroes. That was the first time most of them had ever seen the inside of the Palace or visited their nation's history.

Just a couple of weeks ago, Johnny was able to visit for a couple of days and see a quick glimpse of Haiti. He spoke at school chapel on Wednesday morning and had all of the kids rolling in the aisles. They loved his message and still ask me when he's coming back to speak in chapel again.

Lastly (for now), we just had an all-night camp out for the middle and high school students. We 'locked' them in on campus for the night. We played capture the flag, soccer, basketball, kick the can, and a variation of hide-and-go-seek. Each kid was to bring a can of soup or bag of Ramen, which we mixed all together in one huge pot. Our 'soup surprise' was actually very good!! We also built a campfire and made s'mores. We did have to explain s'mores-making again as last year there was some confusion as to whether the chocolate needed to be roasted with the marshmallows :)

There are a lot more activities coming up and I'm super excited about them. Currently, I am planning a girls' retreat for the young ladies in high school. My goal is that the seniors will mentor the younger girls into becoming strong leaders at the school next year. Keep that in your prayers as the details come together :)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Happy New Year!

Well I'm back in Haiti after a nice, restful time back in Texas with the family. The first semester ended well, and I enjoyed spending two weeks in colder weather. Well, I enjoyed a couple of days of it...then I decided I needed my tropical heat back!  School started up on Monday and it was great to see my students again. We swapped Christmas break stories and reviewed some from last semester. I also have a new roommate! Pam, a fellow teacher and friend that lived in the apartment next to mine, is now living with me. We are sharing a one-bedroom apartment and loving it! She and I get along great...well, at least for now! haha. We'll see how well we do after being together 24/7. 

Today we had a picnic out at a family's house in Croix de Bouquets. We had great food, fellowship, and plenty of Guitar Hero World Tour!  We also had the opportunity to visit Double Harvest, a ministry here in Haiti that is involved in conservation and reforestation projects. They grow all sorts of plants--from ornamental to vegetables and trees. Pam and I bought tomato plants and marigolds to plant in our little flower bed.

When we got back home, we decided we needed to go ahead and plant the tomatoes before they died. Without proper gardening tools, we had to improvise. Pam came out with a soup spoon and bread knife and started going to town in our less-than-fertile dirt pile.  Our guard just watched and laughed. He then gave me this big stick, as if I knew what to do with it. I just gave him that "I'll stick with my silverware, thank you" look and kept digging. He broke the stick and started digging his own holes--twice as fast as me of course. I realized the broken stick was a much better gardening tool than knife and spoon, so together we all finished planting the tomatoes. Our cat, fiendish as he is, thought it was his job to dig up the tomatoes after we planted them. Needless to say he got squirted with water.

Overall it was a great week. The weather is beautiful here this time of year and our garden is off to a great start. Oh, and my new year's resolution is to update my blog more regularly :) 

Happy New Year!