After I had finished reading The Art of Compassion by Martin Smith, a book on the ailments that are experienced around the world and way that we can make a difference, I was mentally and emotionally prepared to serve others. Leaving class one day I spotted a flyer advertising an alternative spring break trip to Haiti to help in earthquake relief that still plagued the country two years after the aftershocks had ceased. Heavily debating seniors year’s spring break trip to Los Vegas, NV with close friends, I ultimately decided that I wanted to follow my passion and go to Haiti instead.
Traveling to Haiti with 4 other students, I was able to travel out of the country for the first time on a trip that would forever change the way that I viewed international synergy. Not only were the Haitian welcoming, but they were very eager to initiate an exchange with us. Even though there was a language barrier between the native creole language that many of them spoke and the broken French that of a few of us spoke, we were able to connect on a level that was beyond any human language.
Being about the since of Massachusetts, we were able to travel around Haiti and see all of the beautiful scenery that it had to offer from the picturesque mountains to the clearest of blue waters. With one of the students that I traveled with being from Haiti and her father still having connections there, we worked with an organization by the name of Iteca. Iteca is a non-profit organization whose mission is to educate, train, and strengthen farmers in favor of the poor by providing them with available resources. With three locations through Haiti, Iteca seeks to provide assistance to farmers and laborers within the mountain regions, areas of Haiti that receive little to no assistance. In Haiti, we were able to travel to each of the Iteca locations through Haiti and speak with the farmers and locals within the community.
Originally going to Haiti to serve, I was overwhelmed by the compassion that was bestowed upon us from the Haitians. Initially feeling as if I was not being of much assistance in regards to the needs that they had, I was effectively expressed that our simple presence meant much more than we could ever imagine. To them, the simple though of making a conscious decision to spend our spring break with them instead of partying with the rest of our classmates on a typical spring break trip was more valuable than gourde (Haitian currency).
This trip taught me that when you truly set out to serve others, in the end, you are engaging in an experience that has the potential to impact your life more than those in which you seek to serve.