After three weeks spent acclimating to this entirely new culture and environment, I feel I have more or less sufficiently adjusted to life here in Gonaives, Haiti. I will admit, it’s quite a bit different than anything I’ve experienced stateside. With Haiti being considered the poorest country in the western hemisphere, the stark contrast was of course to be expected. However, aside from the incessant begging and swindling attempts experienced outside the airport in Port-Au-Prince, the locals here have been very friendly and hospitable.
Come to think of it, I don’t believe I have once mentioned the reason for my traveling to Haiti. To keep it short and as less complicated as it needs to be, I will just say that it was through a series of contacts and connections that I was extended the invitation. The base that I am volunteering at is called the Eben-Ezer Mission, which encompasses an orphanage, two separate schools, a church, and a newly established credit union. They have a strong presence here in Gonaives, and maintain a very respectable reputation among the locals and government.
The truth is, neither I nor the leaders here knew precisely where they could best utilize my capabilities once I arrived. On my part, I was expecting some clear cut directions as to the work they wanted me to be doing. Unfortunately, I feel like they were expecting me to be the one to take initiative and to know exactly what needed to be done and how to do it. Thus, the first two weeks passed by with very little contributions on my part as the leaders were busy finding specific work and creating a solid schedule for me to follow.
After taking the available free time to explore and acquaint myself with the territory, I was finally able to begin my new job this past week; that of an English teacher. It’s been an interesting experience thus far, to say the least. Other than my first (and only) language being that of English, I don’t feel I have many other qualifications. I have no experience talking in front of a classroom, aside from relatively short speeches given in my public speaking course at my university. I have rarely spent lengthy periods of time in front of a crowd; but with my first day of teaching English here in Gonaives, I had spent more than five hours trying to teach a new language to a classroom full of more than thirty students. Good times.
I am very grateful to have been given this wonderful opportunity to travel abroad and experience these new challenges. I shall continue my efforts in keeping this blog updated; however, unfortunately you can expect lengthy periods of time in between posts. That’s one big thing I miss about home: America’s amazing communication infrastructure… Anyway, signing off for now.