Written by Ernso Sylvain, NEC Haitian Board Member
The first NEC Summer Program was attended by 133 NEC children; and we are happy to report all the goals of the program were met! Each student was provided a t-shirt, school supplies, books, a sports class and most importantly, a nutritious meal and clean water daily. I am proud to share with you some of the highlights of our summer program by introducing you all to several of our students, the lessons they learned and our projections for the future for some of the community members of Hinche.
This final report will highlight the success and importance of the program to the community of Hinche, introduce you to several students, the lessons learned, and our projections for the future.
First, the success of the program is attributed to the collective efforts of the administrators, sponsors, teachers, cooks, parents and students. In our inaugural summer, the NEC students enjoyed a camp-like experience, where in addition to learning English, they were able to play sports such as soccer and basketball. Most importantly, their bodies were nourished with substantive meals.
During the two months of the Summer Program, the students learned in English basic conversational saying and songs; but how to develop their minds and their bodies.
Please allow me to share a few of their stories:
Lansley showed her leadership skills by helping the teachers manage the other students. She came to summer school on time and asked the teachers what she could do to influence the other students to listen when the teachers were instructing. She helped her little sister, Kimarah learn to sit quietly in class. All who witnessed Lansley were truly amazed at the role model she became. Her innate leadership abilities will make a difference in the future.
Santia Joseph was one of the funniest and most clever students this year. She was always on time for class and truly wanted to learn English. She would ask her teacher questions every day to make sure she knew how to pronounce words and how to say things in English. Every day, she would walk to the office to repeat one English phrase to the secretary. She would also tell her classmates, parents and teachers that she enjoyed eating two snacks and a meal a day at the Summer Program. She is sure to make a difference in the future of Haiti.
Marie Ketura Germain was late one day and saw me, Ernso, in front of the school. She walked over and hugged me. Then, she said “I am sorry for being late, Mr. Ernso.” She was yet another child displaying responsibility and a strong desire to learn. As one of our shining stars, she led all songs at the closing of the program this past August 23. The parents were all surprised to see how talented she was both as a leader and a performer.
Next, because we are also interested in continually improving, we would like to share the following lessons learned:
The summer break can be nutritionally very lean in Haiti, and our scholars can regress. Thus, it was important for the parents to witness their children’s growth academically, physically as well as socially. These students developed skills in relationship building, discipline and most importantly, how to have fun while learning English.
As administrators, we learned that the need for this program is great. As proof of this profound need, the requests for participation in the program exceeded our physical capacity. We are currently exploring the possibility of finding larger space for the future summers.
Finally, based on our experiences and lessons learned this year, these are our projections for next year:
Have a larger place to welcome more students in the Summer Program. We hope to have over 300 students.
Add a series of contests into the curriculum.
Get parents involved in cooking for the students.
Find volunteers from the USA to share American traditions with our students.
Teach them life skills such as how to make friendship bracelets as well as sandals made from recyclable plastic.
Create competitions for the sports activities.
We are grateful for your continued support to better the lives of our young students in Hinche. We are excited to announce that the dates for the 2020 Summer Program will be June 18 to August 23. We look forward to continuing our relationship with you all in the coming years.