The following reflection was contributed by Laura Douglas, one of the Laurier Enactus students who took part in our service learning trip to Haiti. As their Faculty Advisor, I am happy and humbled in sharing their thoughts with you. We are also grateful to Steve Sider (check out his blog here), for inviting us to be part of this experience. Stay tuned for Jerry Liu's reflection, coming tomorrow!
After finishing the first week of my final semester at Laurier, my prepared personality had me completing a checklist before I jumped on a plane to Haiti. However, no matter how prepared I was, or thought I could be, I very quickly learned there as very little I could have done to ensure I could make the most my service learning trip. Reflecting back on such a powerful experience I was able to see the very apparent motives, meaning and memories that arose from learning outside of the classroom.
I pursued the service learning trip with a motive to help with a microfinance program at the Center for Nutrition, Education, Women and Children (C-NEW-C) in Cap-Haitien, Haiti. After arriving, meeting the women and children but most importantly our fantastic partner and director of the center Andre, this motive grew stronger. With an open mindset, our team identified we were there to help, and this had to be done in a way that but the center’s needs first. This open mindset was critical and was the only thing I could have prepared. Despite the early mornings, extreme heat and long days, working with the center made me excited to start each new day. I now realize this motivation wasn’t something I always had for every course I took but made the service learning that much more enjoyable.
Our week with the center quickly mirrored the work of informed consultants. We learned about the center and Haitian culture to turn the identified the needs and opportunities into a process model to better serve the women and children of the center. Being able to leverage the synergies of the current programs and hearing from the women we could see profound impact the center had on their lives. Similar to a case model, we completed research and analysis to develop a solution which drew upon my critical thinking and knowledge I’ve gained over my past four years as a Laurier SBE student. However this case was different. Developing this "solution" I learned and absorbed more information than I could have ever imagined. Most importantly, this case had meaning and will produce results I will be humbled to see in the future.
Lastly, I am confident the memories from this service learning trip will stay with me for the rest of my life. Having the opportunity to reflect and learn with such a diverse group through a nightly debrief contribute to my learning immensely. Not only was it one of my favourite memories but I warmly accepted the many ways and processes that contributed to the shift in my thinking. I kept a journal of my thoughts and experiences but I know it’s not the notes I will count on to keep these memories alive. It will be the cherished relationships I have developed with incredible Haitian and Canadian team members that will ensure this is just a beginning!
Thank you to everyone who made this trip possible because it truly provided me the most enriched learning of a lifetime that I’m very hopeful to continue with!
A passionate educator.. on a quest for a schooling model to love!