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Post Haiti Trek

Hannah Triester, Staff Writer

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Just a couple of weeks ago, 16 of Harriton’s most determined and dedicated students returned from their 9-day Trek to Haiti.

They ventured to the remote village of Platon Robert and immersed themselves in Haitian culture and the community’s unfamiliar daily routine. Invaluable connections were formed with host-families and laughter was shared with the village’s children, who would soon benefit from the school that was the main-purpose of the team’s months of fundraising.

The Trekkies spent a significant portion of the trip laying the foundation of the three-classroom school that will be fully constructed in just a couple of months.

The group’s willingness to aid those in need and their commitment to the people of Platon Robert was truly awe-inspiring. For these reasons, the Harriton Banner sat down, for a second time, with a few members of Harriton BuildOn’s Trek team to find out what they took away from the trip and how it has changed each “Trekkie” individually.

Harriton Banner: What was your favorite part of your 9-day Trek to Haiti?

Rachel: Probably my host family, because the woman I stayed with was a teacher. At night, she would show me her lesson plans and try to teach me Creole and we would teach her English.

Sophie: Getting to bond with the family was really amazing, playing with the kids, and getting to experience their sense of community.

Duncan: My favorite part of the trip would probably be the children of Platon Robert. They were all so happy all the time and it was so cool to see.

Jazzy: My favorite part of our Trek to Haiti was most likely getting to know the people in the village, especially my host family. It was really great to communicate with them and they always made us feel so welcome. The sense of community in the village was so strong and it is a feeling I will never forget.

HB: Was any aspect of the trip different from what you had expected going in?

Rachel: The shower situation was definitely a little different because you had a gallon of water for three girls, you poured it into a bucket, and you dumped the bucket on yourself.

Sophie: The entire thing was not what I expected. I didn’t really have any expectations going in, so everything was new and exciting.

Duncan: Going in, I didn’t think the people would be so friendly and kind. They really opened my eyes to the good in people, and I really liked spending time with them and learning about how they live.

Jazzy: Going into trek I did not entirely know what to expect but it was pretty close to what everyone had told me. I think the only thing that surprised me was the actual village because it was much more spread out then I had imagined but I found it really beautiful to be in the mountains.

HB: How did that difference affect your outlook at the time?

Rachel: The first night was sort of hard. It was like culture shock, and everything was pretty crazy with our families. But as the week went on, it got so much easier and I began to love it more and more. The experience was truly amazing overall, which is why we stopped caring about the difficult parts because they were insignificant when compared to the whole.

Sophie: There were parts that were so amazing and parts that were really hard, but everything ended up working out for the best and I was so happy to be there.

Duncan: For me, it made the trip even better. I thought the people in the community would be nice, but not so joyful and giving. It made me so happy to be around them.

Jazzy: It didn’t really affect my outlook, I just tried to focus on positivity and to really treasure the time we had there because it is such an amazing experience.

HB: Which people, whether part of the Trek team or from the village, had the greatest impact on you?

Rachel: Probably my host-mom, again, because her eagerness to learn and the fact that she had so little really made me want to spend more effort in school and be much more thankful for the school I have here. The entire village had such a positive outlook on life, even though they had so little. They were all just so happy and so nice; this really inspired me.

Sophie: The people in the village had the greatest impact on me, hands down. Just to see how happy they are and how close together they are was so amazing, even though a lot of times they have to struggle to meet the most basic of needs.

Duncan: Like I already said, the children in Platon Robert were so fun to be with. They might not have had much, but they were always smiling and laughing.

Jazzy: I think that my host family as a whole had the greatest impact on me and I learned a lot from their generosity. They did not have much compared to what we have here in the United States but they were so willing to open up their home to us and made sure that we were comfortable and I will be forever appreciative of them.

HB: How do you think the classrooms you built and paid for will change the lives of the Haitian people you lived with? Was this impact worth all of the long hours spent fundraising and preparing?

Rachel: It was definitely worth it. I was talking to some kids when we were there and they said they had to walk an hour to get to school, so now they don’t have to do that. Also, the school they had previously was literally a piece of canvas held up by four sticks, and now they have a three-room schoolhouse for 100 kids.

Sophie: My host family had a really young girl, so it was really nice to think that the hard work we put in fundraising and building a school would go to kids like her. She will be able to attend the school, sit in a classroom, focus, learn, and hopefully grow up to do really cool things.

Duncan: There is no doubt in my mind that the fundraising and everything was worth it. This school will change so many of those kids’ lives, and I’m really proud to have had a part in that.

Jazzy: I think that the classroom we helped build and fund will have a huge impact on the lives of the people of Platon Robert because they will be provided with the opportunity to educate multiple generations of their families and it will give them a better chance of escaping poverty. We talked to a lot of the children and many of them have big aspirations for when they grow up, so I’m glad that this school can help them achieve this. The impact was definitely worth all the stress of fundraising and preparing! It is hard to imagine the gravity of what an education can do for them until you witness it first hand.

HB: How have you changed as a person since Trek?

Rachel: Definitely my perspective on things has changed, even with little things like having a sewage system or a post office. I’m much more thankful for just little things like that, and I’m more aware of how I say things, needs versus wants, how much I eat, and how much water I’m using.

Sophie: I am more conscious of things people say and do because it was a really eye-opening experience and I have a brand new perspective on everything now.

Duncan: Since Trek, I realize that we have so much, yet take most of it for granted. Some of the simplest things that we don’t even think about on a daily basis are things that the people in Haiti can never have. So yes, I have changed a lot because I look at everything I do differently now.

Jazzy: I think that I have become much more aware since Trek. I see many things in a different light and have found out a lot about myself in the process.

HB: What would you say to other students considering taking part in Harriton BuildOn’s next Trek?

Rachel: It’s definitely a big undertaking, but it’s probably the coolest thing you will ever do in life.

Sophie: I would say that fundraising is really hard, but it’s completely worth it. It’s an amazing experience and it was one of the best weeks of my life, so I would totally recommend it.

Duncan: The fundraising is pretty difficult, but the trip and the relationships built from it are really cool. If you will work hard and care a lot about it, you should definitely do it. It will change your life.

Jazzy: If anyone is considering taking a part in Harriton buildOn’s next Trek I would highly suggest that they apply! Trek is such an incredible experience and although fundraising can be stressful it is all worth while.

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