OSUN Virtual Learning Opportunities Shape Student Civic Engagement Projects in Haiti
Recently, students and staff at the Haitian Education and Leadership Program (HELP) in Port-au-Prince reflected on their experience participating in OSUN's Network Collaborative Course on Civic Engagement. Stael Toussaint (Law, '23) and Bessy Jeudilus (Education, '23) along with HELP program manager Nancy Audain were selected this past year to participate in the course, offered by Bard College through OSUN. The three logged into the class for two, two-hour sessions a week and participated in assignments and projects.
“The most frequent assignments,” Jeudilus reports, “were reading responses which we had to hand in the day before class. We also had presentations, position papers, and other assignments like community mapping, interviews, action plans, etc. which helped guide our final project.”
“Each class and reading was more interesting than the last but I particularly enjoyed the classes on civil society and strategies for engaging in hostile environments. I also really liked Eric Liu’s work on the question of power," she says. In her semester-end feedback, Jeudilus' engagement with the readings stood out. Her professor wrote that her reading responses were some of the best they’ve seen in the two years they’ve done the class!
But for Jeudilus that wasn’t the best part. “My favorite aspect of the class was the workshops with different speakers from all over the world. We had sessions with people deeply involved in their community. Government officials, activists, global civil society leaders, even one official from Haiti. These were very enriching contacts and the diversity in the course allowed us to have different perspectives and learn from the reality of other countries.”
Audain also enjoyed the variety of perspectives. “The course was unique to me, I had never thought of civic engagement from so many different socio-cultural angles. The course gave me new perspectives and a global view on the challenges that I thought were unique to Haiti but now see are present in other countries.”
For his final project, Toussaint developed the Youth Initiative for Professional Development. He writes that “the project aims to create a network of qualified but unemployed young professionals in order to train them and link them to employment opportunities in the town of Mariani on Haiti’s southern peninsula. The project is an attempt to answer these questions: What explains the extreme poverty, especially among young people, in Mariani? How can we solve this problem? How can the youth who grew up in the community participate in its development? And, how do we bring governmental and NGO attention to the area?”
Program leaders were so impressed with Toussaint's project that they provided funding for it! “The sustainability of my Youth Initiative will be a constant reminder of everything I experienced through this course," he says.
“In more abstract terms,” says Jeudilus, “the many lessons I have learned about citizenship, community organizing, power, diversity, inclusion, and civil society will forever change the way I view local and international situations and social movements.”
Learn more about HELP here.
Post Date: 12-23-2022