I am a person who is obsessed with planning. I need to know things ahead of time, and plan accordingly around them. I am a person who doesn’t enjoy spontaneous moments that much, but rather have the knowledge of what it is going on.
I had been like that for a long time, but one day I found myself getting out of my comfort zone and doing something I never imagined I would do: I applied for a study abroad program in HAITI.
Let me break it for you so you can have a better understanding on how this worked out.
- My English professor thought I had a great writing style and that I should apply for a writing certificate.
- I emailed the director of the certificate and schedule and appointment to know how it works and how to apply for it.
- I had the meeting Monday, February 23rd. I met with the second in charge of the program, and the director walked in to meet me.
- The director mentioned the trip to Haiti, which focuses on writing.
- The deadline is Monday, March 2nd. Just a week away.
- I applied, without looking into it.
- I spent a week in Haiti.
Now, you might be thinking, why did we go to Haiti for a writing program? Well, Haiti is full of amazing writers and we met them, we also visited places that opened up ideas for prompts as well as a source of inspiration for other pieces of writing.
Haiti is a place that still hasn’t recover from the earthquake, and it is a really poor country. The activities we did were focused on writing, but we did some volunteer work too. Ahaji, the director of the study abroad office, has been working hand in hand with the owner and director of an orphanage in Haiti. Love Orphanage is a non-profit that takes care of kids who lost their parents during the quake, and the idea is not precisely to find them a home but make the orphanage their home. We fund-raised money, gather donations and took them to the house, and of course played with the kids.
Tahina and Fabiola were my “buddies” when we went there, and they made my experience in Haiti 10 times better. These two kids received me with open arms and a huge smile on their faces. They wouldn’t let me alone, and even when I wanted to fix my glasses or my -ehem- bra, they will tap on my leg so I could grab their hands again. They are kids that showed me that you can be happy even if you have nothing.
We also visited the oldest newspaper in Haiti, went to a Voodoo concert and to the Iron Market. We saw how the locals live, and how Haiti really is. What impressed me the most is how Haiti is portrayed in the media. I blame how scared I was when I finally realized I was going to the media actually. There are beautiful scenes there, and amazing people who are doing everything they can to survive.
I will admit that more than once I cried during the trip. When I said bye to the kids, and when we wrote poems with Haitians even if we had a language barrier. Sometimes it was too frustrating being there, other times I felt hopeless and I wanted to go back to America. The trip was too intensive, and required a lot from us, so crying now and then was understandable. I felt overwhelmed more than once, because everything we were doing was so different, and not at all what I expected to be.
It was especially hard to take everything in. All I saw opened my eyes and inspired me to write more, to give more. But being overwhelmed by the experience made it difficult to actually realize everything that was going on.
It was not until I sat down the last day to finish all my assignments that I realized what this experience was. Yes, I felt sadness and tons of mixed emotions during the trip, but is a feeling I will not change ever.
Did I have one of the most amazing experiences ever? HELL YEAH! It is a week i will not trade for anything in the world, where I became a better person and a better writer. It is indeed a life-changing experience, and something spontaneous that I am truly glad I did.
If you want to help Love Orphanage and learn more about it, please go here. Please donate and help them build a new house for the kids.