Yesterday we met with Haitian college students from Quisqueya, CEDI, and the University of Notre Dame, at the latter’s campus. The event was set up by the Cultural Affairs officers from the United States Embassy. We had the opportunity to tell the students about the goal of our trip and the interviews we had thus far. Because many of the students were in medical school we discussed the differences between the Haitian and American college and medical school systems.
We also heard students talk about the complex issues caused by foreign medical aid workers. The students noted that there still people without medical care, but that the free care offered by aid organizations makes it difficult for Haitian doctors to find jobs. We also discussed the presidential election and the differences between Haitian and American elections.
Students had a wide variety of opinions on the election, some supporting Martley, others Baker, and others Celestin. However, the majority of students supported Manigat, citing her extensive education as an important political asset, in comparison to other candidates.
Many students expressed disappointment with the candidates and the election processes. They argued none of the candidates had a solid detailed plan for rebuilding the Haitian economy. Instead, they felt that the candidates spent their resources into putting up posters and staging rallies, while failing to explain how they plan to help Haiti. Others also feared that politicians would fail to keep even the rather ambiguous promises that they made.
We then explained the party system in the United States, as our two party system is rather different than Haiti’s system with over sixty parties. After the structured discussion we broke into small groups and engaged in dialogue about a wide variety of topics.
I really enjoyed the opportunity to talk to Haitian students around my age about their opinions toward politics, education, and life. It seemed that in general we shared similar attitudes toward things: frustration toward politics, gratefulness toward our educational opportunities, and anxiety toward life after school. I hope that the meeting will lead to future contact and connections.
By Cameron Rotblat (firstname.lastname@example.org)