This has been a busy week in Matènwa. On Monday, LKM hosted a group of four visitors from the University of Puerto Rico: a linguistics professor who specializes in creoles, a Haitian graduate student in linguistics, and two undergraduates who are also studying linguistics and Kreyol. The group is hoping to start a project connecting Haiti and Puerto Rico to increase mutual understanding and break down prejudices against Haiti.
The visitors spent Monday morning observing elementary classes, both in classrooms and in the garden. They also spent some time looking around the library and the school bookstore.
In the afternoon, the group visited the Atis Fanm Matènwa (Women Artists of Matènwa) arts center. They talked with artisans painting silk scarves and doing embroidery, about the processes of their work and the history of the arts center. On the walk back up to LKM, the visitors and I talked about the importance of mother-tongue education. They compared Haiti to Puerto Rico, which also has a tradition of education in a colonial language (English) rather than the students’ native language (Spanish). The visitors said that although all public school in Puerto Rico is now in Spanish, many of the private schools, which are more prestigious, teach in English. All the visitors talked about how impressed they were with LKM’s mother-tongue teaching and learning.
Back at the school, the visitors met with Abner Sauveur, LKM’s co-founder, and Vana Edmond, who has taught at LKM since it was founded, to talk about the history of the school.
We are very happy that we’ve made this connection, and hope to have more visitors from the same group in the future!
Tuesday of this week was the sixth anniversary of the catastrophic 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Many schools closed for the day to commemorate this. LKM chose to stay open, but to cancel classes. Instead, both primary and secondary school spent time learning and talking about the earthquake.
Here are some photos from the high school gwo wonn (large-group meeting). Both students and teachers shared stories of their personal experiences of the earthquake. They also talked about the significance of the earthquake for Haitian history and its meaning for Haitians today. A teacher invited me to contribute, and I shared my experience of the 2010 earthquake from the United States, even though I was far removed from it and only heard about it in the news.
The Tuesday gwo wonn was an emotional and important meeting for all of us.