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    Posted April 14, 2012 by
    Austin, Texas
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Trip abroad that inspired you

    The Striking Potential of Haitians


         On a recent school service trip to Hinche, Haiti, from March 1st-9th, I stayed at two different schools, sat in on classes and distributed toys and clothes to Haitian youth. While sitting on classes, I observed the classrooms don't consist of much. Students have a single notebook and pen, and the teachers have nothing but an old chalkboard. Despite their lack of opportunity and resources, it was remarkable to me how easy it was to discover the potential of young Haitians.


         For most Haitian students, the most exciting part of their day is going to school. They love learning, and they can only hope that they will continue to be able to attend school. Due to the cost and location of some schools, it is not always guaranteed. When I learned that at St. Etienne, one rural school I visited, the annual cost per student is only eight dollars, I was dismayed that not every student could afford to attend. Furthermore, I witnessed many children walking long distances to school, some as much as five miles a day. That is how devoted they are to their education. Unfortunately, many children, like the ones attending St. Etienne, who live in the rural areas of Haiti rarely receive an education at levels higher than sixth or seventh grade. There are very few schools in rural areas that provide education past that level. Instead of going to school, kids will carry water from lakes (often long distances), beg for money, or work in fields for food.


         The most inspiring thing to me about Haitians was, despite their serious dearth of educational opportunities, poverty, illness, and political unrest, they are genuinely happy. Even in the poorest neighborhoods, I encountered children full of laughter, with the most heart-warming smiles. The simplest things brought them overwhelming amounts of joy, whether it was letting loose a rocket balloon or just taking their picture. Children with this much happiness and passion for their education don’t deserve to live in such wretched conditions. These children have made an indelible impression on me, and I have been inspired to help them receive higher levels of education and spread the word about their potential.

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