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#4965: Vacation job in Haiti - The Times (fwd)

From: Charles Arthur <charlesarthur@hotmail.com>

Keyword: Mangoes

The Times newspaper, London, UK.

November 29, 1999 GRADUATE CAREERS

Experience - Alexander Harston

Executive accessory: a shotgun

I FOUND a job working with the local American Express office in
Haiti during the summer of 1998, thanks to my father, who was working
with the UN there at the time, and I became so fascinated with the
country that I decided to go back. However, this summer I found a job myself 
and it was very different. Whereas last year I was learning about finance, 
local and global, this year I was chasing mangoes.

Haiti is one of the biggest suppliers of mangoes to America, and
Tecmarine, the Caribbean shipping company I got a job with, fills a
cargo ship a week with mangoes for Miami. The ship sails late on
a Wednesday, so the run-up was spent rushing around the country
making sure the collection of mangoes was all going well.

It was not as simple as it sounds. Disorganisation ruled, telephones and 
electricity were always on the blink and difficulties in
communication were compounded by the fact that although I speak French, the 
Haitians speak Creole French. In theory, I made sure farmers brought their 
mangoes to the plants, supervised the treatment and their packing in 
palettes, which were then placed in refrigerated containers bound for the 
docks. In practice, one week there wouldn't be enough mangoes, the second no 
palettes, the third the wrong containers. And when the fridges failed, it 
would all turn to pulp.

Then there were the two weeks of rioting at the docks, which screwed 
everything up. I find Haiti fascinating because anything can happen there, 
though it is not as lawless as it once was. I have lived in a few countries, 
but never worked in an office where you sit with a
shotgun behind your desk. Hold-ups can take place any time.

CV-speak: Ability to communicate and administer in two languages
enhanced by multifaceted managerial job in the Caribbean.

?The author is in his third year of a four-year degree course in
international business and management studies at the European
Business School, London.
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