After our exhausting trip back to Port-au-Prince from Lascahobas the previous evening, the team decided to reconvene over supper downstairs at the Prince Hotel to discuss what had transpired over the past few days. The students surprised me at this dinner, by telling me that they had decided they wanted to adopt two schools, instead of one, for our pilot schools, that they knew this would require a redoubling of fundraising efforts, and that they had some good ideas for how to accomplish this. I was surprised, extremely impressed, and newly inspired, as I continue to be, by these students.
We started the next morning with a large group debriefing meeting at OLPC headquarters. In addition to recapping the trip and what we had seen and experienced, both groups (OLPC and IIT) spoke about plans and commitments for the future months, and for moving forward. We were happy to share the news with Guy Serge about taking on two pilot schools.
Directly following this, we went to another meeting, with the Director General for Primary Education in Haiti, Renold Telfort. As we drove into the Ministry of Education compound, it was like driving into another tent village. Since most of the government buildings had been destroyed in the earthquake, the ministries have moved to large tents and trailers for their semi-permanent housing.
We had a great meeting with Mr. Telfort, who listened to a description of our project and plans for the future, and expressed his support for this endeavor, acknowledging the great need for this type of partnering and capacity-building education projects in Haiti.
We next went to the famous Hotel Oloffson for our final lunch with the OLPC team members, before heading to the airport, and then finally, back to Chicago.
Our adventure wasn’t over, of course, as we barely BARELY made our connection at the Fort Lauderdale airport, thanks to immigration and customs being overloaded…but it wouldn’t have seemed right to have ended such an adventure-filled trip without one last adrenaline-pumping experience!
The following Tuesday, our IPRO class started up for the semester, and the four students who made the trip with me have been motivating and leading the class with the inspiration they drew from the rich experiences they had on this trip.