First Day of Teacher Workshop


Today was the first day of the teacher workshop. Early in the day we carefully planned our session. Our plan was to have lunch at 1:00 and then conduct the workshop from 2:00-4:00. However, because there was only one cook on duty today, lunch was delayed. We ended up starting at about 2:20 without having eaten.  We were concerned because the English classes for the community were scheduled from 4:00 to 5:30. We pressed on.

To our delight, there were eight male teachers present for the workshop. We began with a warm welcome and had each attendee introduce himself. To encourage collegiality, we opened up the atmosphere by mentioning how much we’d learned during our observations and how we wanted to offer tools to assist in their teaching endeavors. We also encouraged the teachers to feel free to raise a hand and ask for clarification when needed. Next, we explained that the classes would be held in English and that we would be happy to repeat if necessary. In summary, our goal was to answer their questions, encourage comfortable sharing and assess and provide the necessary resources.

Next, we asked the teachers to take a few moments to list their personal or professional goals, share them with a partner and then to share them with the rest of the class. Among the goals shared were to establish a language learning lab that will provide books and other materials, to learn new teaching techniques, to improve oral production, to understand the meaning of semantics, and to work on accent reduction. Some teachers wanted to improve English skills in order to be able to travel, to work in translation or interpretation, to help youth, or to teach even more languages.

We next gave a presentation on learning styles. The teachers asked several questions during this presentation. We talked at length about how helpful it is to have lesson plans that accommodate students who are auditory, kinesthetic or visual learners. It was a very helpful, active discussion.

Overall, the session went relatively smoothly and we were able to get some ideas about how to accommodate the group. One thing that struck me was that before each participant began to share his thoughts, he first took the time to express appreciation for our having come to work with them. They spoke with sincerity and it was evident from the way they expressed their gratitude that they really meant it. We closed our session with a presentation of the syllabus which we’d created and printed earlier. By this time, our session was coming to a close and we were glad to have Pere Noe arrive a few moments early so that could finally have lunch. Needless to say, we scarfed.

As planned, we spent the 4pm class explaining the use of the verbs to be, to feel and to wear as we talked about emotions and expression. Today’s class was comprised of 30 girls and 26 boys. The room was unbelievably cramped and maintaining attention was incredibly tiresome. However, I was encouraged by the presence of two very young students. When I say young, I mean 4 or 5 years old. They took it upon themselves to sit in the front of the class and to participate to the best of their ability. When asked to repeat a phrase or pronounce a word, they did so with enthusiasm and clear performance voices. At one point, it felt as if they were being an example to their class mates who ranged from ages 10-21. Real participation was difficult to come by, but we got through it.

Who’s On First?


After yesterday’s evening English class, we strategized as to how we were going to manage teaching today. Despite the fact that we thought the class was rather large to begin with, we came to a consensus that we would begin as one class, get the learners oriented, assess the numbers, and then split up into two groups and have two of us teach as the third one helped coordinate. Earlier today, we were told that, compared to yesterday, because of word-of-mouth, there could be more people in attendance today. With this in mind, we prepared two classrooms. The people arrived. The people kept coming. More people came. Word-of-mouth had done the trick. Pere Noe decided that we have the attendees from yesterday stay in one room while the rest were to be split up into two other groups. This meant the three of us would end up teaching separate classes. More people came. They kept coming. We continued individually with the lesson plan we had agreed upon. The number of students who ended up in my classroom was 54. This particular class ranged from those where adults, youth and even three children under the age of five; one of whom took it upon herself to proudly participate.

I had assumed the both Haley and Marie had the same number of students. I later found out that they both had only twenty-seven students. Needless to say, there is a lot of work to be done.


This morning we had the honor of meeting Pere Noe. After introductions, we paid our hotel bill and began our trip to Hinch. It didn’t take long for us to recognize what a skilled driver Pere Noe is. It takes a particular talent to navigate narrowing, bumpy and congested roads. There were no street lights or traffic signs in existence. Traffic flows naturally and people seemed to intuitively how to decide when and where to stop, turn or let one another pass. Not long after leaving Port au Prince, we passed a compound that had been built by USAID shortly after the earthquake. They were strikingly colorful and stood out distinctly from the shacks and shanties we passed along the way. On our two hour trip through and between the mountains we saw make shift housing, street markets, cement shops, barbershops and other community establishments. There were also a number of cows, goats and stray dogs scrounging. At one point, we were stopped by roadside authorities who asked Pere Noe for license and registration. Having the policeman circle the car was slightly unnerving, but we weren’t delayed.This gave us a more clear sense of what life is like here.

Four a.m. Really!?!…. Yep….


Yesterday evening, it was announced that we would need to wake up at 4 a.m. to prepare to leave the Parish early enough to take the two hour ride out in the mountains for a church service. The ‘church’ was made of dried leaves, logs and bed sheets. The ‘pews’ were made of wooden planks and there were home-made tables set up to make the altar and other essential areas. On the way, we’d passed people walking along the road carrying water on their heads, riding donkeys or mopeds going about their daily chores. Pere Noe mentioned that some people walk for hours a day just to bring back water for the family. All of this aside, the people who lived there made us feel incredibly welcomed. Despite language deficiencies (neither of the three of us speaks Creole), we were individually greeted with open, sincere smiles. After the service, we were graciously fed by our hosts. The hospitality they offered was deeply heartfelt and shall be forever cherished.

Later this evening, after the 2 hour ride back we had the opportunity to meet Evens, the head teacher, Jean Baptiste and Alberic. We took some time to go over the plan for tomorrow. It was a little hard because approximately 70% of the meeting was held in Creole. Pere Noe was able to freely switch between French, Creole & English. It was clear and not surprising the Creole was the preferred language. During a few side conversations, we were somewhat able to hear the teachers speak some English. For now, the plan is to observe Evens’ English class at 7a.m. tomorrow morning. This will be day one for us and we could all just feel the excitement.