As international attention focused on Haiti after the devastating earthquake in January 2010, at least two teams of SIPA students focused their 2011 Capstone workshops on Haiti.
One team of six students did their Workshop in Development Practice on the Haitian Diaspora and education reform in Haiti. The project was commissioned by the Bureau of Haiti’s Special Envoy to the United Nations and the Social Science Research Council. Read the full report here.
- Photo Wendy L. Carlson (MIA ‘11)
According to Juontel White (MIA ‘12), a students on the team, this project was inspired by the mass response efforts to the earthquake. She explained that many observers were interested in the role and involvement of the Haitian Diaspora - Haitians displaced from their homeland. Therefore, after consultations with their clients, the students decided to focus their research on the Haitian Diaspora in the United States, specifically with regards to education reform in Haiti.
The team conducted dozens of interviews via Skype with members of the Haitian Diaspora in the U.S. A few students also traveled to Boston and Miami, where there are large communities, to conduct interviews in person.
In Boston, White interviewed a Haitian Diaspora teacher in the Boston Public School system who taught bilingual students that had moved to the U.S.
“[This project] opened my mind to the world of diaspora,” said White. “I think in the media, in development work, they get over-shadowed a lot. It’s international organizations who get the attention. In our interviews, we saw a lot of Haitians do a lot for their country. And that’s amazing to me.”
“It was also very inspiring,” added White (right), describing teachers that she and her teammates met. Many ready to take part in exchange programs, as well as vocational education and training programs, which the team recommended in their final report.
“While some of our recommendations are vague, about strengthening the Haitian Diaspora in general,” explained White, “Some are very practical, and it’s just a matter of getting funding for them to be implemented. Those would make a big impact.”
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