This wasn't true in Bulgaria, but they're only a generation removed from communism so I understand that in a way. And it isn't true in Haiti, which I find a little harder to understand. Here youth are extremely resourceful. I saw a kid pull two wires from his pocket and charge his phone today. Another guy made a trumpet from scrap parts and plays it each Sunday at church. And there's the kid mentioned in my post last week, who rigged an old motor into a power washer and runs a car wash business from his porch. Somewhere along the way though, all this resourcefulness is suppressed and is failing to translate into innovative and new ideas. The kind that can bring real growth and change to a struggling country.
I don't pretend to have the answer, I could live here for 20 years and not understand the depth and intricacies of the culture. But I do know their school curriculum is nation wide and based on the French style of memorization. Students get told, "Here is the answer - memorize it - then write it word for word on the exam." There's little room for problem solving, creative thinking, or opportunities to learn from failure in a system like that. If you ask students what they want to be, most respond with doctor or preacher. Those are the people they've seen have success, at least in this area.
They get told all they need to do is to make it to University, and they'll be successful. Most won't ever get that chance though, and that sucks, but it's reality. They live with that hope of getting to University so they can be something. And when they can't, at 18 years old, many give up hope. Because their school failed to teach them how to think for themselves and there are an infinite number of ways to make a living. They can be more than just a pastor or a doctor.
Jean Robert has recognized this as an issue, but one that doesn't have a simple answer. Individual schools don't have the leeway to change curriculum. But what he's planning is to provide a vocational program that's available to his students after school. It will be an opportunity for them to learn trades such as agriculture, plumbing, electrical engineering, and welding; trades that gives them an opportunity to to make a living if they can't afford university.
He also wants to invite American students to come stay in his mission dorm and assist with the camps we'll be hosting throughout the upcoming summer. He wants to see the children in his school exposed to new ideas, activities, and challenges. Camps will include English lessons, leadership training, bible training, worship, as well as any other activities that groups would like to put together.
American students will be able learn from a new culture and apply their strengths to our program. We plan on the students playing a part in the planning and organization of camp activities. Anything that exposes the kids in Haiti to new ideas and new ways of thinking will be welcome and encouraged.
If you are interested in a trip, please feel free to contact us with any questions.