By Desmond Goodwin, V Form & Student Chair of the Haiti Partnership Committee
Book Club: A Necessary Tool in Partnership
At the end of last year, the Haiti Partnership held a meeting to discuss our goals for the 2014-2015 school year. The committee members agreed that we needed to emphasize to the community that the Haiti Partnership is just that: a partnership. How would we show St. Mark’s that we are benefitting just as much from this relationship as St. Marguerite’s, our partner school in Latournelle, Haiti? We knew that we had to bring Haiti to St. Mark’s. We wanted to bring the beautiful culture to our school and teach our fellow students and faculty about life in Haiti. We wanted to celebrate the country. By creating a “Haiti Book Club,” we hoped to bring a part of Haiti to St. Mark’s and use it to strengthen our partnership with St. Marguerite’s.
The idea was to read three books over the course of the school year; one book would be read over each vacation. Over Thanksgiving vacation, we read Clare of the Sea Light by Edwige Dandicat, a Haitian-American author. Over winter vacation we read The Big Truck That Went By by Jonathan Katz. And over spring vacation, we will read A Wedding in Haiti by Julia
Alvarez. These books combine to provide eloquently crafted stories about the lives of Haitian people, as well as the raw history of the country’s birth and development. In our discussions following each break, we gain knowledge and insight into the unique country that is Haiti. It is easy to become lost in media’s depictions of Haiti: the aftermaths of the earthquake, the poverty, and the hunger. But through our readings and discussions, we learn that Haiti is fighting against those challenges. Haiti is a country earnestly striving to regain footing, and behind that reconstruction people are full of hope, resilience, and beauty. The positive aspects about Haitian culture are all illustrated in the books we chose for this year’s discussions. By providing students and faculty another avenue by which they can gain insight into the country, we hoped to spread knowledge about the home of our partner school. This is what a partnership incorporates: the sharing of knowledge and culture and the exposure to an area outside of our own borders. By partnering with St. Marguerite’s, we are given the gift of exposure, a necessary part of learning. This partnership is not a one-way road directed at St. Marguerite’s. We are given so much by our friends in Latournelle. By starting projects such as a book club, we hope to spread the importance of why this partnership is not only essential for St. Marguerite’s, but also for St. Marks.
Desmond Goodwin is a V Form boarding student from Spokane, Washington. Aside from her work as the student chair of the HPC, she is on the cross-country team and rows crew.