Day three of the Deep Dive wrapped yesterday and I have spent the last three days in a sea of different languages. I hear Kreyol, Spanish, French and English all day long–mostly Spanish, followed by Kreyol. As someone who speaks one of those languages (English) with a two hour class working knowledge of another (Kreyol), I do spend a good bit of time in “relative” silence due to lack of understanding. But it gives me ample time to watch what is going on around me, to try to understand Kreyol (speak it when I can) and to listen. (see earlier post :)).
While here I am helping at Foi et Joie which works on education in Haiti with a network of 18 schools around the country. And yesterday, we spent the afternoon traveling to one of its schools in Canaan.
Canaan is an area full of Haitians that came from all around Haiti after the earthquake. The government gave them land and they set to create a neighborhood for themselves. People have little and many people are in one area but I imagine they find some normalcy in the availability of a school.
In the morning the school is filled with the feet and voices of primary students and in the afternoon, older elementary school students (fundamentale) come to learn. We visited with some people to chat with them about school needs and this is when I realized that while being in a place where I often don’t know the language spoken–school translates. A bell rings, signaling break time and students run from the classrooms to start a quick game of football (soccer) or keep away. Girls eventually become curious as to who are the visitors and wander closer in groups but run away if they are noticed. The Principal said that students liked coming to school because they felt safe and they got food.
All of this rang so true to me as I remember watching my former students at recess or knowing some of the situations my students came from each morning looking forward to the first meal of the school day.
School translates without language and it is always a beautiful thing to see kids being kids no matter where you are.