The following reflection was contributed by Jerry Liu, 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 to share 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.
After working remotely with a Haitian NGO on their micro-finance program since October, I had the opportunity to travel to Cap-Haitien to work with the team on the ground. It was a great opportunity for us to apply the skills we learned in university, while having a deep learning experience in the Haitian context.
Our team managed to strike a balance between digging deep into the culture and economy in Cap-Haitien, and synthesizing these into specific insights for the NGO. Most notably, while coming up with business ideas for the micro-finance program, we toured the nearby market, and realized that most vendors were selling either products purchased in bulk at the Dominican border, or donated clothes from the United States.
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.
As part of this year’s service learning trip to Cap-Haitien, Haiti, the Laurier ENACTUS team (an organization based on applying business skills to address social needs) has been spending time at a partnering nutrition centre. The nutrition centre is a hub for many services and programs, with an aim to develop the capacity and skills of young mothers in the long term, while addressing nutritional deficiencies in their babies in the short term.
Over the past year, our small team (three Laurier Business students and one faculty member) has spent time researching improvements to an existing microfinance program at the centre.
In just a few days of being here in Cap, we are really appreciating the critical importance of presence on the ground to really LISTEN to the concerns and needs of people we are working with, and to understand broader context. Skype calls don’t always do this justice!! So we decided to take a step back, and put our research on microfinance aside.. just for now!
Recently, civil rights issues in the states and here in Canada have caused me to think a lot about empathy. Why is it that some people seem to express and feel empathy more easily than others? Why do we tend to jump to a defensive stance during challenging conversations? Most importantly, what does this have to do with schooling?! For this last question, I turn to my favourite escape, a quote by a respected person:
Humans aren’t as good as we should be in our capacity to empathize with feelings and thoughts of others, be they humans or other animals on Earth.
A passionate educator.. on a quest for a schooling model to love!