December 12, 2018
Since October 2018, Foi et Joie Haïti has begun a promising new partnership with Belen Jesuit Preparatory School in Miami, FL.
Belen’s new Service Learning Coordinator, Teresita Gonzalez, has a long relationship with Haiti through her previous work in the Archdiocese of Miami. In dialogue with Foi et Joie, Mrs. Gonzalez teamed up with Johnny Calderín, a Media teacher at Belen, and recruited a select group of Belen students to form the innovative “Haiti Tech Team”.
Their mission as volunteers is to help Foi et Joie staff with technical issues which are beyond Foi et Joie’s current ability. But it doesn’t stop there. They are also committed to helping Foi et Joie to build those capabilities, by providing tutorials on how they accomplished the tasks (like improving the graphic design of the Foi et Joie newsletter). As Foi et Joie learns to do these things on its own, it can propose more sophisticated challenges – like producing and editing videos for a new website (Mr. Calderín’s specialty) – to the Haiti Tech Team. This way, through their generous service, the Haiti Tech Team gets to practice and build on their skills, and even gain experience working with a real-life “client”.
At the same time, the process of helping to tell Foi et Joie’s story has sparked the curiosity of the Belen students on the Haiti Tech Team, who now want to know more about Haiti. They have started to have Skype calls with Foi et Joie staff, where they talk shop, but also share about their respective experiences. They are even planning a visit to Miami’s Little Haiti neighborhood. This learning component naturally leads to even deeper questions, which both Belen students and Foi et Joie staff are comfortable discussing on a spiritual level.
The French Club at Belen has also gotten involved. When Foi et Joie’s assistant director visited Belen during a recent trip to Miami, he answered their questions about the similarities and differences between Haiti’s two official languages, French and Haitian Creole. After learning some more about Haitian literature and music during a visit by Foi et Joie’s director, they decided to showcase Haiti as a nearby francophone country during the school’s recent French Week.
The Club’s language skills also come in handy, since the Tech Team needs help with English-French translations in order to help Foi et Joie with technical questions. It’s a perfect example of “Belen guys” at their best: they are not only “men for others,” they are men for others together.
Miami and Haiti can seem worlds apart, but as two Jesuit-led educational institutions, Belen and Foi et Joie share in a common mission. That’s why their collaboration has gone so smoothly, and all are excited to see how it will continue develop towards the future.