For too long, the road between Haitian aid recipients and American donors has been a one-way street. Equality within partnerships—including the opportunity to learn together in each other’s culture—builds understanding and a ground of common knowledge from which partnerships of equality can create sustainable development.
CEI links partners, initiates exchanges, provides a forum for the sharing of ideas and resources, and creates and hosts workshops and trainings in order to increase understanding among Haitian and American partners and peers and build enduring relationships of equality that lead to sustainable improvements in people’s lives and in their communities.
Why: Internships, short-term residencies, conferences, seminars, workshops and other peer exchanges are powerful tools of transformation. In the past, Americans have often visited Haiti, but few Haitians have visited their home communities in return. Peer exchanges among Haitians and Americans foster two-way learning, create a body of common knowledge, and build relationships. Haitian leaders come away with expanded vision and access to resources and American counterparts come away with better understanding of their partner’s reality. Effective partnerships often follow.
What: CEI facilitates various short-term learning exchanges for Haitian leaders, educators, agronomists, musicians, artists, and others though targeted brief residencies. With partners, we also provide opportunities for Haitians to attend conferences, seminars, and workshops specifically related to their field. Each exchange is uniquely designed around the individual and Haitian community served and the US collaborator, with the expectation of equal gain through the exchange.
Who: Any interested organization in the United States can contact CEI to explore peer exchange opportunities. An example of a recent successful CEI internship program originated with McDowell Environmental and Agriculture Schools. CEI connected them with Agronomist Arol Ilerand. From there, a one-month residency was created. Outgrowth included starting of a seed bank and community garden program in Croche, Haiti and a Clean School, Green School project in Jeannette, Haiti. Additional partners who joined this work included the Haitian volunteer group VCCAN, and three US-based organizations: Krik?Krak!, Camp McDowell, and the Episcopal Diocese of Wisconsin Haiti Project. Now, over 200 students in Jeannette are engaged in project-based learning about agriculture and the environment, in a model much like the one at McDowell.
Authentic engagement and cross-cultural collaboration with Haitians are simply not available to many Americans. CEI brings Haitian programs to schools, universities, community groups, and public events in order to make this kind of cultural cultures and gain greater understanding.
Why: It’s always better to learn about a country and its people firsthand. No one knows Haiti like Haitians. Unfortunately, what most Americans know about Haiti comes from foreign newscasters and other non-Haitian sources. Presentations by Haitians inform and inspire, educate and entertain, bridge culture. They bring about better understanding of ourselves and our world, laying the groundwork for the collaborative work needed to create sustainable improvements.
What: Since 1995, CEO Cathy Parrill has been bringing Haitian educators, students, artists, musicians, agronomists, and other professionals to the United States. Together, she and Haitian artists and musicians have written, produced, and delivered programs about Haitian culture, history, and arts to about 40,000 American students. She has also brought American educators to Haiti for joint-workshops with teachers there. CEI now continues this work, bringing Haitians and Americans together in a variety of venues.
Who: Any individual, group, or organization who is interested in bringing a Haitian program to their members in the United States can CONTACT CEI to learn more.
In keeping with its mission of developing human potential, CEI strives to offer further education opportunities for exceptionally talented individuals, regardless of their field.
Why: Unique talents contribute to the world in ways only they can uniquely do. Musicians, artists, poets, writers, athletes, scientists, anthropologists, doctors—people of countless talents have the ability to inspire, motivate, heal, challenge, and transform the world. Recognizing and providing opportunities to exceptional talents is an investment made not only in individuals, but the lifetime of work in which they may engage.
What: CEI partners with individuals, groups, and institutions who want to participate in making specialized training to special people.
Who: Community Colleges, Universities, conferences, specialists in their fields, granting organizations, interested community groups—CEI works with individuals and groups who want to bring Haitians to the United States or elsewhere to further their learning and develop their talent. Please contact us if you would like to participate in this worth effort.
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CEI welcomes new ideas and resources to help improve our work in Haiti.