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5851: Thanks! (fwd)
I want to give my sincere thanks to several members of this list who
responded to my 11/18/2000 posting. Many took time to provide me with
valuable insight, contacts, tips, etc. There were some patronizing opinions
e-mailed as well, and one gentleman even said that if I were his relative,
I’d be "going to Haiti over his dead body." Most respondents, however, took
time to present me with their personal Haitian experiences (some great, some
frustrating), for which I am very grateful. I heard from missionaries, well
diggers, librarians, students, and adventurers. From these, and from other
sources, as well as from my extensive travel and living-abroad personal
experiences, I can re-affirm that in order for one to be accepted and,
consequently, effective in Haiti the key is, as anywhere else, one’s cultural
I do not seek anyone’s "approval" (this is how one person interpreted my
posting) as my mind was made up long ago and those who matter the most to me
have already "approved." I simply noticed that this list, like many other
similar lists on the Internet, serves first to disseminate information, and
secondly, to vent. In this second capacity, it is very similar to my father’s
diary. If one knew him only through what he has written in it, one would
think he was a sad man who led a miserable life, while in reality he was a
fulfilled, jolly individual who only felt compelled to write in times of
melancholy, sadness, or frustration.
Many people are curious about my motivation for the Peace Corps. Here’s the
answer: life on this planet has been very good to me, very rewarding, very
rich. I always felt that I wanted to "give back a little", but only now I’m
in a position to actually do so: my children are grown and I’m out of debt.
My greatest expectation is to be able to make a tiny bit of difference in
somebody’s life, to help someone just as strangers helped me when I found
myself in a strange land, with no citizenship of any country (for eleven
years I was a political refugee, under the auspices of the High Commissioner
for the Refugees of the United Nations), with no money and seemingly no hope.
Nobody is an island. People need people.
I am also hoping to learn a lot. I am very much looking forward to simplify
my life and at the same time to be forced to make decisions a little more
complex than "paper or plastic?"
Of course, I could stay put for another fifteen years, keep on working hard,
and squirrel away lots of money so when I die, I’d die rich. Don’t get me
wrong: I am not knocking down the so-called American Dream. It just doesn’t
happen to be my dream—that’s all.
Why Haiti? Do I have a death wish? Am I a thrill seeker? Hardly. I did not
pick Haiti as the country for my assignment. Peace Corps did, which is a good
thing, since if it was up to me, I would most likely opt for Dominica where
diving is much better. This would be, naturally, a very selfish criterion but
we humans seem naturally programmed for selfishness. Or I could pick a
country with a language in which I am already fluent (Spanish, French),
instead of having to learn what will be my 6th language, which I find very
interesting and also very challenging, since at my ripe age this takes a
considerably greater effort on my part than it did thirty years ago.
As an information technology professional, I am using Internet to gather as
much information as possible about my place of assignment, and Corbett list
and its subscribers have so far been very helpful to me in that area. Thanks
again and if between now and March you can think of something (anything!)
that you think would be useful for me to know, please, do not hesitate to
e-mail me (LatinJazzFan@aol.com).