Campus has “Eyes on Haiti” during fall semester

In 1999, four faculty members from what was then the Women Studies Program traveled to Haiti to give workshops on feminist theory and learn about the work of women's organizations there. Their ongoing connection to the country led to them providing assistance following the devastating 2010 earthquake. However, they wanted to do more. The first step was raising awareness of Haiti's problems in the campus community.

Women, Gender and Sexuality (WGS) faculty, along with the Eisenhower Institute (EI), worked to better inform the campus community about ways in which Haiti continues to recover from the earthquake. The result was a semester-long program of lunch and learns, "Eyes on Haiti."

The series began in September 2011 with the film screening and discussion of "Nou Bouke: Haiti's Past, Present and Future," which helped to put contemporary Haiti into historical perspective.

The next event was a talk by Marie St. Cyr, director of the Lambi Fund, a Haitian NGO initiated in Haiti and supported by Haitian Americans. Her moving talk, "A Model for Rebirth: Lambi Fund in Partnership with Rural Farmers," focused on the idea that Haiti does not want to be endlessly dependent on the outside world for survival.

Paul Austerlitz, of the Gettysburg College music department and Sunderman Conservatory, also shared his experiences in Haiti with a talk, "Vodou, Music and Liberation in Haiti."

He was followed by Richard Kurin, Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture at the Smithsonian Museums in Washington, DC, who oversees the Smithsonian Cultural Recovery Project in Haiti. His illustrated lecture demonstrated how Haiti's extensive artistic legacy is being rescued, safeguarded and restored in the wake of the quake.

Katherine Conway Turner, Provost of Hood College and Education Director for H.O.P.E., an American-based NGO working in northern Haiti, described a mobile classroom project that brings education to young people in a hard-to-reach mountain area.

The culminating event in November was a panel discussion, "Help for Haiti," featuring Diane Duarte from Madre and Angela Bruce-Raeburn of Oxfam America. This well-attended program brought together key representatives from major NGO's to discuss safety for women in tent camps, work projects that employ Haitians and the proliferation of unregulated NGO's.

In addition to the EI, funding for "Eyes on Haiti" was provided by twelve College departments and programs, many of which offered classes tied to the Haiti lectures. Citizens from the local community also attended the Lunch and Learn sessions, adding to the lively discussions that followed each lecture. An Immersion Experience in January 2012 will allow students to travel to the Dominican Republic and Haitian refugee camps there under the auspices of the Gettysburg College Center for Public Service.

Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition. Alumni include Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate, and other distinguished scholars. The college enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students and is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.

Article by Janet M. Powers, Professor Emerita of Interdisciplinary Studies and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Contact: Nikki Rhoads, assistant director of communications, 717.337.6803

Posted: Mon, 2 Jan 2012

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