Just three days after finishing the academic year, a group of students and faculty traveled over 2,200 miles to continue important lessons.
“This is as much, probably more about Wesleyan learning than Wesleyan doing service,” said Gerise Herndon, an English and gender studies professor. “Haiti is not to be looked upon with pity or as an object of charity.”
For two weeks, the group is focusing its attention on education, working with a school on the island of La Gonave where they are assisting with teacher workshops, and meeting and learning from school administrators, parents and students.
“They have discovered that education is the most important and sustainable practice that could build the country for the future,” Herndon said of the Haitians.
Haiti has become a successful study abroad opportunity for Nebraska Wesleyan students.
In March, 17 NWU students — mostly members of the university’s Pre-Health Club — spent their spring break in Haiti assisting medical professionals at small health clinics, orphanages and schools. They served nearly 600 patients in just one week.
Tiana Peterson, who graduated in May with a biology degree, accompanied physicians and nurses to provide medical care with Mountain Top Ministries in the remote village of Gramothe. It was Peterson’s second trip to Haiti.
“My passion for serving in a medical setting has grown with each trip to Haiti, and now I have a passion for global service,” Peterson said.
Cindy Marolf, biology professor and Pre-Health Club advisor, and Gina Chambers, assistant professor of health and human performance, have coordinated and led the medical trip to Haiti for the past two years.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for students interested in healthcare to work closely with a healthcare provider, see many different healthcare issues, gain an appreciation for service, and begin to learn if healthcare is the right career for them.”
Joselyn Lemm, a biology major who graduated in May, helped run a pharmacy in Haiti. This fall she will attend the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s College of Pharmacy.
“Participating in this trip — specifically working in the pharmacy — gave me experience that I was not likely to get in the U.S.,” said Lemm. “I learned so much from medical providers about different medicines, but also about patient contact and counseling. I will forever be thankful for this experience as I know it has shaped my career journey in a positive way.”
The students in Haiti this summer prepared by researching Haitian history to gain a better understanding of the culture.
But ultimately the greatest lesson comes with the experience.
“My travels to Haiti have provided me with more than I have provided Haitian people,” said Peterson. “I may travel to Haiti to provide for others, but I always return having been provided for.”
—Story by Emmalie Harris, public relations intern.