We have just returned from two weeks in Haiti where we presented a seminar on Divergent Thinking at the University of the Nouvelle Grand Anse in Jeremie (UNOGA). The beginning of the seminar started in 2012 when I taught a math class and Rita taught ESL there. Travel to Jeremie and living conditions there are difficult – we gained an appreciation for the energy it takes for the poor to get through a day just to take care of the necessities of life, like obtaining food and water, washing clothes and a multitude of other things that we take for granted. There is little health care, which concerned us. So we thought that we would never go back.
We both recognized some things that were missing from our students’ educational development and I couldn’t let go of the idea that I could and must try to do something about it. As I worked with a colleague to develop the seminar and began to see it as possible to do, I hoped that I could get someone else to go to Haiti to present it, but I came to realize that I had to go and present it myself. That’s where this post really begins.
When I decided to go back to Haiti, I didn’t want to insist that Rita go with me, but she recognized how important it was to me and would not let me go alone. For me, that was a great affirmation of her love for me. As I continued to develop the program, she would say to people that it was Bob’s seminar and she was just going along to watch. At the same time she was feeding me great suggestions that helped my work and I was beginning to see ways that she could be a great asset to me and the students. As we presented the seminar, she was a great help with keeping materials organized and offering suggestions. In some cases I knew that she could present some of her suggestions better than I could and she became a significant contributor to the teaching. We have worked together on many things through the years and found ourselves again enjoying working as a team.
Living conditions were still difficult and Rita put up with being stung by bees, being covered 24/7 with mosquito repellent, showers that were a trickle of cool water, food that sometimes wasn’t familiar or very tasty to our palates and limited availability of electricity and bathrooms. We complained some to each other, but also laughed at the thought that we are just a little crazy.
Several people, including a Haitian senator, university officials and students asked us to move to Jeremie and work at the university full-time. It was easy to say “no” to that. Will we go back? We don’t have any current plans, but we didn’t the last time we left, either. We are trying to find a way to train a Haitian to present the seminars, which is necessary, if they want to offer them more often.
The seminar was a great success for the students and UNOGA. It brought us closer to each other and reminded us of how well we can work together and how much we enjoy it. What more can we ask? We are very blessed.
If you are interested in learning more about the Divergent Haiti seminar, go to DivergentHaiti.com.
We welcome your comments.
Today’s scripture readings, reflection and prayer:
Bob & Rita’s book: Forever and Day: An Invitation to Create a Marriage That Lasts a Lifetime is available on Amazon.com or by contacting us. Also available for Kindle and Nook. Make a retreat with your spouse, at home, on your time. Readings, relationship tips, questions for discussion.