Home » Season 4 » Travel Daily Digests & Thoughts: Haiti Partnership

Travel Daily Digests & Thoughts: Haiti Partnership

By Will Stack, Kerrie Verbeek, Will Allen, Jack Thalmann, Cricket Dotson, and Henry Hirschfeld

Travel Daily Digests & Thoughts: Haiti Partnership

Day 1:  Friday, January 13, 2017

By Will Stack

Today has been long. Everything has just been blurred together; it’s a miracle I didn’t lose my passport.  When we finally landed in Haiti, we were all ready to collapse.  However, we had a little trouble at the car rental place.  Apparently, despite our arranged reservation, they did not have two cars to rent us. “It’s Haiti” seemed to be the excuse used when Pere Reginald, our partner priest who hosted us during our visit, asked why they did not have our cars.  This was just the start of a very exciting afternoon on the roads of Port-Au-Prince.  We had to drive from the airport in Port-Au-Prince to Mathieu, the town where we would be staying for our first evening, and along the way, we experienced one of the most eye-opening parts of Haitian culture, Haitian driving.

The first thing I learned about driving in Haiti is that the lanes are just suggested areas of driving.  If there is room on the road, you take it, no matter how close the oncoming truck is, you take the space.  Second, using your horn is more of a courtesy.  You see, there are no stop signs or traffic lights in Haiti so the way to drive through an intersection is to lean on your horn and pray that any oncoming car hears you and stops.  Finally, there is an unspoken hierarchy on the roads that every Haitian follows.  Lowest on the totem pole are the motorcycles.  They have to move over for anyone trying to get into their lane. Next, are all other cars and trucks and highest on the totem pole are military vehicles. Fortunately, we had a military escort and saw the rewards of being highest on the totem pole of Haitian driving hierarchy. When we would come to an intersection, instead of looking both ways and waiting for space to drive, the policeman in the military car would stick his hand out the window, wave at everyone to stop, and the streets would clear up quickly and we would be on our way.  It has been roughly 6 hours into the trip and I have already seen enough to make my head spin, but I am looking forward to the next five days.

Day 2: Saturday, January 14, 2017

By Kerrie Verbeek

“Pay attention!” Emmanuel yelled at us as a motorcycle zipped by without any intention of moving for anyone in its path. Cricket and I exchanged a moment’s glance and said, “That was close.” How could we possibly pay attention to everything, though? There was so much to see as we walked on the dirt path and down towards the main road. All around us people stared as we passed by. I guess ten white, clearly foreign people walking down the street early in the morning was a strange sight to see.

Day Two in Haiti, from my perspective, can only be described in one way – a series of realizations that can’t quite be labeled as emotions or placed into emotional categories of “good” or “bad”. Over the course of the trip, I felt many emotions to the absolute extreme. My heart ached, it loved, it felt so much gratitude, so much empathy, it laughed, it cried, it hoped, it wished, and overall, it just felt so much more than I think it ever has before. I was exposed to so many different things and had so many different feelings. I had feelings that I never thought I would feel in certain situations, but all the same, I did.

It wasn’t 9:00 and we had already gotten up, done Henry’s “light” workout circuit, eaten the most delicious meal I have ever tasted in my life, showered, played three rounds of President, and were now trudging along this dirt path.

Beside us, women and children could be seen balancing heavy baskets on their heads while carrying jugs of water in their hands. I glanced to my left and saw water running past huts on the side of the road. It was a decent stream that consisted half of water and half of trash that flowed within a low wall on either side, keeping the water in. A few houses down children were bathing in the stream. My first reaction was shock, then sadness, but as we approached, they were laughing and giggling as they washed themselves. There wasn’t a shred of sadness on their faces.

Confusion came over me. Why weren’t they depressed to be bathing themselves in this way, and also, why had I had the horrible expectation that they would be depressed? These were questions I continued to grapple with throughout the trip.

When we got back to the rectory, a small group of children had huddled outside the gate waiting for us to return. They came rushing up to us and began talking to us in very fast Creole that we could not understand. All I wanted to do in that moment was understand. I would have given anything in that moment to understand what they were saying. To understand them, and to have them understand me. To communicate with them and let them be heard. But, I couldn’t. So, I took a little girl’s hand and began playing a game we played with a few other kids the night before. In this game you would try to slap the hands of your opponent before they moved them away, then you would switch who was slapping. We continued to play, had piggy-back races down the road and back, played “1-2-3” (where we would all stand in a circle, holding hands and counting, and then lift them into the middle as high as we could get them). Before any of us knew it, we were laughing and communicating in a way that couldn’t be done verbally, but comes when you communicate with someone through your heart.

Unfortunately, we had to leave soon, for today we were traveling to the mountains! I was so excited and also a little nervous to go up there.

We traveled for a half an hour by car and arrived at a place in the woods with at least fifty kids roaming around and parents nearby doing chores or just sitting and talking. I had gone in the first car, so we had time there before the second car with the rest of the group came. This time of waiting actually ended up being one of my favorite experiences of the entire trip.

I taught a group of girls how to play Ring Around the Rosie, and by the time the other group arrived they were all singing along (in English, which they didn’t know before). It was one of the most amazing experiences in the world. We all ran as fast as we could and then took turns rubbing the dirt off of each other after we plopped down on our butts at the end of the song. One little girl, Abigailla, had the cutest little smile and laugh. She wore a denim shirt that had a “My Little Pony” symbol on it. Only after we had said goodbye did I realize that she probably would never know that that horse was a toy that was very popular for children in America.

Next, we crossed a river and then climbed a mountain. Oh, yeah, just a casual thing that you do every day. And yes, we were all very sore (especially after Henry’s “light” circuit), but after seeing what everyone around us did every single day, no one complained.

The climb was actually pretty fun. I think our group really bonded on the way up (special thanks to Will Stack for the life story, it was very entertaining). Finally, we got to the top and to the school!

We quickly got settled and ate a delicious dinner (seriously I recommend Haiti for so many reasons other than this, but the food is a huge draw)! Then, the music began and the soccer balls and jump ropes came out. One thing that should be noted is that our group saw many houses that didn’t have running water, electricity, or even complete walls, but almost all of them had really nice speakers (I’m talking Beats) which just goes to show that what is valued in certain cultures may not be as valued in others and vice versa.

A nice 3 vs. 1 soccer game of monkey-in-the-middle did develop, which I did join in on (@SMGVS I have found us some new recruits). Those little kids were good! They were pulling out some pretty fancy moves. Then, eventually (after a couple of the soccer balls got kicked down the mountain… oops), Cricket and I started a dance circle. We were busting out all of our best moves and the kids we were dancing with were either laughing with us or at us. It might have been the latter, but I’m choosing to believe otherwise because I think we were great.

After our dancing circle continued, three sisters, Meekshah, Rebekah, and Fatimah, asked me in English what my name was. I was shocked they knew how to speak English, and I told them Kerrie and then asked for their names. Meekshah then told me that they were sisters, that she was the oldest and that she was going to “teach me how to dance” (okay, so maybe “The Sprinkler” Cricket and I were doing is not what they considered dancing, but regardless, Cricket and I killed it out there).

She proceeded to do some very complicated dancing that she was very good at, but that I was neither capable nor comfortable doing in front of such a large crowd. So, we proceeded to dance together holding hands while she did her incredibly on-beat dance, and I did the running man on-beat-ish. It was so fun!

After many songs, she came up to me and said, “I’m hungry”. I thought I had heard her wrong over the music, but I had not. She repeated, clutching her stomach, “I’m really hungry, do you have food?” I shook my head, unable to speak, for I felt so guilty knowing I had had such a great meal earlier. “Please, I’m so hungry”. Now I felt actually tears coming into my eyes because I had protein bars in my bag that I was forbidden to give her because I didn’t have enough for everyone.

“No, I’m sorry, I don’t. I’m sorry.” She looked horribly disappointed and walked over to her mother. I proceeded to go to the bathroom to collect myself. It was at this moment that I wondered why I had the privilege of the access to those granola bars and she didn’t? We were both girls of the same age, yet born into completely different circumstances and lives. I also wondered if I was lucky, or was she unlucky?

Later in the trip, I shared a conversation with Ms. Lohwater that was really meaningful. She said that while there are many things about my life that I am more privileged than Meekshah to have, there are also things that she has that are of much greater value than my possessions. This was very powerful to me, and I reflected further on this when I got home. During my reflection, I came across a quote that Ms. Berndt, my advisor, uses to sign off each of her emails. It goes, “…but here’s the thing: Hard is not relative. Hard is hard…There is no harder, there is just hard. We need to stop ranking our hard against everyone else’s hard to make us feel better or worse about our closets and just commiserate on the fact that we all have hard.” – Ash Beckham (TedTalk). This made me think even further. What if there are pros and cons to every single society, idea, culture, etc., and it is our duty as humans to share the positives of our culture with each other? The value that I brought down to Haiti definitely was more than returned in the value that the people of Haiti gave to me. The resources that we gave and hope to continue to give were more than given back in the lessons that they gave to us. So, I feel like pitying them or thinking their lives are hard and comparing the hardness of their lives to mine does no good. Instead, I hope that as a school we can celebrate and learn from the awesomeness of the people of our partner school in Haiti. I also hope that we can share the greatness of our school and resources with them. Going down to Haiti, I hoped to “fix the problems in Haiti” (news flash to myself, that can’t be done in 5 days), but focusing on the problems or the hard times that others feel is counterproductive in building our partnership and, in the end, having both schools become better. Instead, I hope we can focus on and share in each school’s greatness.

Going to Haiti was one of the best experiences of my life. I will never forget singing “Call Me Maybe” in the car with Ms. Morgan and Mr. Young (they should both guest star in a capella next year), having such meaningful conversations with Ms. Lohwater, seeing Mr. Umiker dance the night away, making friendships with people who I will (at least I hope) be friends with for a lifetime, playing President (Will Stack cheats), bunking with Cricket (my love), running with Henry and Jack (slow down, please), watching Will Allen trip over himself on the way up the mountain (still the same Will when we got down), and most importantly, meeting some amazing and inspiring people in the incredible country of Haiti.

Day 3: Sunday, January 15, 2017

By Will Allen

I woke up on Sunday morning to the sound of children playing outside the St. Marguerite’s School. I had a refreshing night of sleep after the long and difficult hike the day before and was feeling sore, but well rested. I packed up my sleeping bag and walked outside to meet the other St. Markers already enjoying the warm morning. The “Happy Birthdays” and the classic “Feel any older?” jokes came rolling in as it was my 17th birthday. As I gazed out at the horizon, I was taken aback by the scene from the top of the mountain. The rising sun gave the mountains and valleys around us a reddish-orange hue, contouring the land in a way that took my breath away. Will Stack and I joined a small group of children for a quick game of soccer before we had to get changed for breakfast and church. We had a simple breakfast of toast and peanut butter and I got a chocolate brownie Clif® bar as a birthday dessert. I put on my shirt, tie, and khakis and walked over to the church with the rest of the St. Markers. The church in Latournelle was made of long branches with rippled metal sheets that made up the walls and ceiling. The unevenness of the metal sheets and openings for doorways allowed for light to shine through to the altar and the pews. After taking our seats, the Latournelle priests and Pere Reginald carried out their normal church proceeding of Bible readings except that our friend Emmanuel helped with translating the Creole to English for us. The entire community sang beautiful church songs, and even though I couldn’t understand the words, I could still feel the joy they were portraying. The music in Haiti, especially in church that morning, was mesmerizing. I was surprised at how amazing I felt afterward. Several parishioners were even getting emotional. After church, we packed our things and had to say our final goodbyes to our friends in Latournelle before we hiked back down the mountain.  It only took about 45 minutes to hike down the mountain, compared to the two plus hours it took to hike up! When we got to the bottom of the mountain, we retrieved our cars and returned to Mathieu. After arriving at Père Reginald’s home we all took long-awaited showers and got ready to head into the nearby town of Léogâne. Before leaving Pere Reginald’s house, Jack, Cricket, Kerrie, and I joined a group of students from the village of Mathieu who were singing in a circle next to the church. Guided by their teacher, the students were playing a game which involved guys and girls asking each other to dance in the middle of the circle, and all the kids were laughing and dancing. It was a great time! Then, we rode into town to visit an Episcopal hospital,  Hôpital Ste. Croix. At the hospital, we visited the maternity ward and several rooms with about four or five patients in them. We got to see a newborn child with her mother, but it was unsettling when I later found out that the child kept getting sick and the doctors couldn’t help. We got back to Père Reginald’s house late that night and played cards for an hour.  We were all excited to find out that Père Reginald had gone out and bought us ice cream from a local store, which was the best way to end a day filled with so many memories.

Day 4: Monday, January 17, 2017

By Jack Thalmann

Today we woke up in Mathieu and decided to go for a nice, early run through a nearby town at around 6 am. We had been told that breakfast would be ready around 7:30, but it actually was finished by 6:30, shortly after we returned from our run. We ate a wonderful meal and then set off for a day at the beach. We arrived at the resort where we would be spending the day and sat down, looking at the luxurious architecture and the rooms that were so heavily contrasted from the world right outside of the gate.

While at the resort, we continuously played card games, swam in the pool and ocean, and also met some students from UMass visiting Haiti to work in a free health clinic. We ate two meals at the resort and then returned back to Pere Reginald’s home at the rectory in Mathieu for a going away party that Pere Reginald had organized. Right as we pulled into the gate, before the party had started, there was already music blasting. We got out of the car, threw our bags inside the house, and started dancing. Our Haitian friends Steven (pictured below with Steven), Jetson (pictured below with Mrs. Morgan), and several other kids came inside Pere Reginald’s complex to come dance with us.

Jetson soon asked for my camera, and spent the entire time we danced going through my pictures from the plane ride to Haiti, our time at the resort earlier the day, and even going as far back to see my pictures from a family vacation to Yellowstone the previous year. His sense of wonder was so much bigger than anyone else’s I had ever seen. I will never forget the look on his face when he saw a picture I had taken out of the plane window of our flight to Haiti, it was a mix of pure shock, disbelief, and joy.

Steven, being the loving person he was, slept on Cricket’s shoulder for some of the time dancing, and also briefly had a guitar lesson from Will Allen, where Will held the chords and Steven strummed.
We danced for between a half hour and an hour when people started arriving and the party was starting to begin. At this point, it felt like it was already 11 pm when the band came in and sat down and everybody took their seats. The kids who we had spent 3-4 days getting to know were not allowed to stay and were shooed out of the complex before the food came out. An excerpt from my written notes from that day reads:

“The children have a mix of curiosity, ingenuity, playfulness, trust, and kindness unparalleled to children in the US. It kills me that these kids won’t ever have the kind of opportunities that we have. We don’t fully realize how lucky we are until we are face to face with someone who is not, and I know that I am not nearly as grateful as I could be if we had spent more time here.”

The party went until 1 am and was filled with more dancing, another meal, and new acquaintances. It was another great day with great people and I had a blast celebrating the Haitian way, though it was exhausting.

Day 5: Tuesday, January 17, 2017

By Cricket Dotson

Today we woke up and had a breakfast of plantains, toast, peanut butter, and an assortment of juices. We could already feel the sun’s hot rays as we brought our bags outside of the house. It was a peaceful morning. I braided Elise, Lindsey, and Kerrie’s hair. We could hear the occasional motorcycle zooming by playing joyful music and see the children filing into their morning classes in their crisp and startlingly clean uniforms. We could hear the gentle murmur of the children talking in their classrooms and the banter between Mimi and (I forget her name) as they cleaned our dishes from that morning. A few of the older school kids, who were our age, were lounging on the swing set in the driveway, chatting and laughing. Elise, Lindsey, Henry, and Mr. Umiker were sitting in the cool shade, relaxing and reading. After I finished braiding Kerrie’s hair, she went over to Will Stack and Jack, who were playing cards, and joined their game. Will Allen was sitting in the school yard, soaking in the sounds of the school day– children laughing, singing, birds chirping in the classroom. A few brave little ones walked up to him, staring at him in curiosity. They introduced themselves and sat next to him. It only took a second for them to become comfortable enough to start playing games with him. They brought with them a dirty rubber ball, which they tossed around. Their eyes lit up and they started to laugh out of pure innocence and delight with the simple game. To me, the children in Haiti were extraordinarily different from the children in America. The Haitian children were thrilled to make a new friend in Will. They would laugh at the simplest things– a rubber ball, a hand game, us, anything. We never saw a Haitian child complain to their parents or throw a tantrum when they saw that someone else had something that they wanted. American children, however, usually throw many tantrums when something does not go their way. Haitian children would not hesitate to hold each other’s hand, or walk up to us and hold our hands, jump on our backs, or pull on our arms. It was in the cultural norms of the Haitian children to touch other people as a sign of affection. In America, that is something that you do not usually see children do. Some girls may hold hands with their best friends, but other than that, touching is not a normal thing to do–there is a barrier. I was continuously astonished by the difference between the Haitian children and American children. Jack, Kerrie, and Will Stack went over to join in the fun that Will Allen was having with the kids. The sun continued to creep up higher and higher in the sky, and it got hotter and hotter as we continued to wait for the cars to take us to Port-Au-Prince. We heard the horn of the van outside the gates of Pere Reginald’s house. It was Charlie, the national police officer coming to pick us up. We loaded up our things into the car. The Wills, Jack, and Kerrie tore themselves away from the children’s shining faces. I handed over the letter that we all wrote to Steven and Jetsen, some of our favorite children in the neighborhood, to Pere Reginald. Just before I head into the car, I caught a glimpse of the drawings that Steven and I drew together the night before in the coating of dust on the car–balloons, leaves, and faces. My heart already ached with the thought that I would not be seeing the children for a long time.

The car was air conditioned and cold as we drove through the rugged roads of the neighborhood. Elise’s knuckles were white as she concentrated every fiber of her being on following the car in front of us at all costs. We watched quietly as we rolled past women carrying enormous amounts of goods on their heads, lambs tied to dilapidated goals, scrawny dogs scavenging for food among the rubble that cluttered the sides of the roads, men lounging outside their houses listening to music, and children in their uniforms walking to school holding hands. As we neared Port-Au-Prince our surroundings changed, we saw beautifully painted tap-tap’s full of people chatting zoom past us, motorcycles weaving in and out of the stream of vehicles in the road, old school busses from Florida being used to transport supplies, people walking through traffic with things on their head which they were trying to sell, people sitting under the shade of tattered beach umbrellas on the sidewalk, tables of clothes for sale, stacks of tires for sale, and so many other things. Eventually, the car pulled over, and we got out to have a bite to eat.

The restaurant was quiet, as it was already mid-afternoon. A few people sat around a small table, chatting casually. We seated ourselves in the corner, next to the window. The kids sat at one table, the adults sat at another. A waitress handed out menus to everybody. The menus were all in French. Only one person at our table spoke French, Will Stack. He had to translate the entire menu to us multiple times. He had become accustomed to being the translator for the kids at this point. While we waited for our food to come, we played some cards. They fluttered a bit as the ceiling fans whirled above our heads. A few people passing by outside stared at us, which we had also become accustomed to because we stuck out like sore thumbs. One man, holding an assortment of artwork stared at us, trying to get our attention. He wanted us to buy his artwork, however, we couldn’t. He continued to stare at us intently, eventually losing hope, and walking away.

Every meal had fried plantains with it, along with a type of salad which resembled spicy cole slaw, which reminded me of New Orleans. The food was delicious. Kerrie and I ordered pineapple juice, which was fresh and homemade. We both loved the sweet cool taste of the juice, which went well with the spicy salad. When we were finished eating, we filed back into the car. Steven and my balloon drawings were already fading.

The drive from the restaurant to the hotel was pretty short. Our eyes opened wide as we pulled up to the hotel. An extravagant staircase led up to a beautiful porch filled with little round dining tables. The porch wrapped all the way around the hotel. From the porch, we had a stunning view of the thousands of colorful buildings packed together, with steep mountains watching over them. A few palm trees cast shade on the pebbled driveway. Next to the hotel was a gazebo-shaped structure, which is where we checked in. Lining the pathway to the gazebo were fascinating voodoo statues. They were composed of things which we would think of as junk, but when put together, they were something beautiful. Inside of the hotel, there was a large face of rock which was covered in a vibrant mural. There were many things painted in the mural most of which were women walking with baskets on their heads.

We dropped our things off in our rooms. There was one room for the boys, one room for Kerrie and me, and one room for Elise and Lindsey. My room was very light and airy, painted white with two doors leading to the porch outside. There was a toilet which flushed, a faucet with running water, and a shower; all of which seemed unreal to me. I found myself shocked at how much treated clean water there was, as accessible as simply turning the faucet. It was overwhelming to be surrounded by all of that clean water. The boys’ room was larger, and just as bright, with lots of late afternoon sun filtering through the porch glass doors. Their porch was extensive, with a bed (covered with a bug net), a card table, and chairs for lounging.

After exploring each other’s rooms, we filed back into the car and headed to one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Haiti to give our shot at some bargaining. We hopped out of the car at a street crammed with vendors, lots of lively chatter, and people milling around the tables. All of the art was cheery and colorful, just like the streets and cars in Haiti. Kerrie and I were glued together, as people came up to us, rapidly talking up their artwork and naming prices. All of the vendors spoke very good English, which made the bargaining easier. However, Kerrie and I struggled with bringing prices down because we wanted to give everybody every penny we had. We ended up not bringing prices down that much on purpose because we did not have the heart to slim the prices down too much. We were perfectly fine with buying an overpriced piece of art from the Haitians. The others in the group did not share the same state of mind, however. Will Stack stuck out as a relentless bargainer, which I was really impressed with. He was not fazed by the large amounts of people coming up to him and persistently trying to get him interested in the art. He managed to get some prices down almost $50 dollars from the original price! At some points, Kerrie and I went to him and Will Allen for their bargaining skills. When we finished our shopping experience, with our arms full of art, we marched back to the car. The sun’s last rays were touching the almost completely faded finger drawings of balloons on our car from the night before.

We ate dinner at the hotel that night with Reginald and many police officers. We sat at the table for more than 2 hours, just enjoying each other’s company and conversation. The conversation never ceased. I loved learning all about everybody’s lives and pasts. After dinner, we retreated to our rooms. After a few minutes, Kerrie and I went over to the boy’s porch. We all laid on the screened bed, joking around, half asleep, and taking videos. Henry gave his birthday cake to Kerrie and me, which we were most happy about. Even though Kerrie and I wanted to sleep on the porch that night, the boys had claimed it as their own, so we went back to our room around midnight. We wanted to eat that birthday cake though, so we went down to the deserted dining room and found a couple forks to use. Kerrie and I ate the cake and reflected on the trip in our room. We were both heartbroken by the thought that we would be leaving in a few hours. We tried not to think about it as we joked the night away.

We went to sleep that night to the sound of crickets chirping outside the porch, and some Haitian music playing on a radio on the street next to the hotel. It was an amazing day. Every day in Haiti had felt like a lifetime. Each day I became closer with everyone in the group, which made the trip even more of an incredible experience. Every day, my perspective of the world broadened, empathy expanded, and heart swelled. I have never laughed more in my life. It seemed as though every other sentence, I would toss my head back in carefree laughter. If I could capture the trip, or even one moment I experienced, in words, then a little of the Haiti magic could touch those who were not fortunate enough to have this experience. I hope that a little of that magic has been captured here.

Day 6:  Wednesday, January 18, 2017

By Henry Hirschfeld

I woke up in the Hotel Oloffson to crowing roosters, honking cars, and shouting pedestrians. I slept better than I had any other night of the trip (perhaps because of the plantains and goat from lunch which filled my belly) yet I knew that the next day would be full of emotions. With a 6:30 am estimated time of departure, getting the group to meander down to the cars was a struggle. Contrary to every other day on the trip, and although it was the first morning that Père Reginald retrieved us exactly on time, we had no enthusiasm for this final road trip. Kerrie and Cricket, who had been giggling balls of energy on the trip, were somber and quiet. I’ve always had a driven, goal-oriented personality, and I hate leaving something undone. When the plane sailed off the Port-Au-Prince ground, however, I was overcome with the feeling that I was doing something wrong, that I left something unfinished. I felt guilt for leaving so soon, anger at how easy it was for me to go back, worry about returning to school, and sadness for leaving the friends that I made. I watched as the dry hills spotted with glimmering tin roofs, each a home for another family, melted from my vision. I told myself that I had to come back.

I was made to come back. I made a bet with Ms. Lohwater to see if one security guard or flight attendant would notice that it was my birthday, which of course none of them did. I tried to stay afloat and upbeat as we meandered through lines, escalators, and airport gates in Fort Lauderdale, but I couldn’t hold back tears of overwhelming defeat and frustration as I watched overweight, retired, sunburned Floridians eat hamburgers at the airport bar. When my mother texted me to wish me a happy birthday, I was bitterly and angrily writing in my journal about how much this world needed to change, and, now that I was an adult, how I was planning on changing the tiny world that I inhabited in order to be a servant of the oppressed. I wondered: eighteen years ago today, what were my parents thinking? What subconscious ideas and expectations did they have for me when I turned eighteen? They wanted me to be comfortable, they wanted me to be happy, they wanted me to have everything in the world I could possibly have. A Latournelle mother would want just the same. Well, thanks to my mother, my father, my home, and the unbelievably random cards that were dealt to me, I had it all. I realized, sitting in Gate F10 of Fort Lauderdale Airport that dedicating my life to service included being grateful for those dumb, worthless, yet paramount cards that I was dealt. “Lives of service depend on lives of support,” says Paul Farmer. My relationships, my family, my background, this special group I got to travel with, are a gift to be grateful for, not to feel guilty about. Privilege gives me the means to serve.

The flight attendant on flight 2070 did recognize my birthday, thanks to Ms. Lohwater, and announced it on the intercom just before landing at Logan. Boston was a literal cold awakening, especially with our sandals scraping across the pick-up lane to meet Ms. McColloch in the minibus. Hearing her bright voice welcomed us home.



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