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7442: spring break trips to Haiti - dorsinville replies to jean (fwd)

From: ndorsinv <ndorsinv@hsph.harvard.edu>

hey shirley,

i admit a certain degree of bias as someone linked to the catholic group going 
to haiti for spring break but i'll try to give my opinion here as a corbetter

i empathize with that feeling in the pit of your stomach, am weary of being a 
white man's burden and try to be vigilant about fostering co-dependent 
dynamics... donor vs. recipient syndrome... all as real and ultimately as 
destructive/disempowering as the poverty they proffer to alleviate

however, i also agree with bob that the benefits to some participants are 
invaluable and can be the beginning of a possibly long-standing interest in 
haiti and perhaps an appreciation for the challenges to social justice in 

for me, that gamble alone is worth the trip!

i can only speak for the catholic students' group and know that they have been 
learning all they reasonably can before the trip... emilio has been teaching 
them some rudimentary creole, chaplain landry and i discussed some of the key 
issues they need to get a handle on haiti from a historical, socio-cultural 
standpoint in order to contextualize what their modest but heartfelt 
contribution has the potential to be

i should add that i was at notre dame on sunday and the haitian catholic 
congregation here in cambridge is supportive and enthusiastic about their 

in any such endeavour, there are participants who will only gain some 
perfunctory benefit out of the exposure but i believe, for the most part, the 
trip can serve as a palpable introduction to systemic issues that have 
profound impact on people's awareness and response to the plight of others

it's important not to aggrandize the objective of these trips, nor go with a 
sense of patriarchal righteousness... but this can be a symbiotic 

the medical supplies notwithstanding, people at the orphanages can get a sense 
of hope, of not being forgotten just by the students' presence... on the other 
hand, the students can gain greater understanding of the theoretical stuff 
they are learning either in law, development, policy, or even good old 
christian altruism...

i guess i think of it as fundamental humanitarianism...

in the end, its better for them to go, see, smell,feel, touch/be touched than 
to remain here floating in the surreal ambiance of harvard yard

think of our own experience with harvard's "revered" human rights scholar... 
this can potentially be an anti-dote to some of the unidimensional stuff 
taught here! kennedy school people can only benefit from some grounding 
experience... at least we are now on their radar screen, when i came here and 
tried to engage them they had no interest in haiti... we were a schizophrenic 
case-study: the "poorest country in the hemisphere" AND a "diplomatic success" 
to be relegated to the shelf!

yes, as a pedagogical approach, i endorse thoughtful attempts at applied 

enjoy the break

see you at the hark... xo