Let Us Be on Our Way

Top: Rev. Carl Jean, C.S. (LCS ’02) bestows a blessing on the graduates at the conclusion of their Baccalaureate Mass; LCS Principal Marjorie Mombrun (LCS ’07) welcomes family members and guests to LCS’s 19th commencement exercises; Super Guide (Class President) Andy-Gessy Walter (LCS ’14) passes the torch of leadership to rising Philo (U.S. senior +1) student, Nadine Certitude. Bottom: THP Director of Community Development Christina Moynihan addresses the guests and graduates on issues facing Haiti; THP President and Head of LCS Deacon Patrick Moynihan awards Francesca Desimeau (LCS ’14) her diploma; Director of the Office of External Affairs, Jean-Roger Polidor (LCS ’06) announces the advent of five perpetual named scholarships, provided through the generosity of various members of the THP community.

Graduation seems to get better and better every year. LCS's 19th commencement was another excellent example and probably the smoothest we've ever had. All 44 members of the Philo class graduated, Christina gave a moving speech, and several of our Haitian supporters were in attendance, including the class Marraine (Godmother) Myriam Baker and newly re-elected THP Board Member Patrick Brun.

Thanks to the generosity of many of our supporters and their families, one of this year's highlights was the announcement of five named scholarships in memory of Capt. Lawrence L. Beason, Jr. (brother of former THP Board Member Cathy Reineking and her husband Dean Reineking, a current board member), Janet Mauro (one of THP’s early founders), Ace and Audrey Mullen (former THP Board Member and his wife), and in honor of Robert E. Moynihan, and Christina Moynihan (to honor her work with the women and children of our Santo neighborhood).

The scholarships will be awarded later in the summer after the results of the Baccalauréat, Haiti's national exam, are announced. (In Haiti, a student must pass the exam in order to enter university.) 

The scholarship endowments represent the fulfillment of one aspect of our Rise, Let Us Be on Our Way capital campaign to stabilize THP and the current LCS by raising $2.9 million in the form of $1 million for the Endowment for Capital Improvements, $1 million for an endowment to support the annual operating costs for LCS’s Office of External Affairs (OEA), and $900,000 for the Endowment for University Scholarships (in the form of nine $100,000 named scholarships - all of which are already underway).

The completion of this campaign will also lay the foundation for THP to build a second LCS in another part of Haiti. We have already raised nearly 50% of this goal in gifts and pledges.

This will be our last update for the academic year. I look forward to resuming the weekly updates on September 3rd.



A Bit of Hard Work Before the Pomp

Top: Philo (U.S. Senior +1) students Frantzie Chouloute and Réno Laroche touch up the paint on an academic building; Rheto (U.S. 12th grade) students help the cooks prepare chicken while Philo and Rheto students sift rice for Saturday’s meal. Bottom: Philo students write the graduation speech in the four languages of LCS; Philo student Djim Guerrier paints the mural designed by the Class of 2014; THP President Deacon Patrick Moynihan and Director of Operations-Haiti Esther Paul work behind the scenes to prepare for Saturday’s graduation ceremony.

It's graduation week. The campus is a rush of students and paint; deliveries and set-ups. After a year of wear, the school puts back on its pretty face. 

It's amazing how fast this week comes each year. It seems like it was only yesterday that I was warning the "newly-arrived" Volunteers that the year would fly by quicker than they could imagine. And, bang, it has. 

Full disclosure: I am the Grinch in this annual drama. Due to my reputation, the staff has learned to go to Esther for permission for everything from the menu to the streamers. Lest there be a lot crying in LCS-ville. 

And, yes, on graduation day each year my heart does grow in size. This year with Christina taking my place for the President's speech--I am sure it will be bigger than ever before. 



It's the Economy

Top: Philo (U.S. Senior +1) students learn about the exportation of Barbancourt rum; tour the factory where Itala pasta is made; and listen to a presentation on coffee production at the REBO headquarters. Bottom: Philo students tour the Topco warehouse, which stores garlic, bouillon cubes and herring; speak with former THP board member Patrick Brun at his company, Durabloc; and pose with Volunteer Kristin Soukup, who taught the Philo Economics class this year.

If improvement in the quality of life of its citizens is what a country is after, it's the economy that matters most. Having the experience of growing up in the world's largest economy and working for nearly two decades in one of the world's poorest has burned that principle into my brain. My experience also tells me that it is far better to describe Haiti's economy as “severely undersized” than simply as "poor".

The inadequate size of Haiti's economy is implied by its low GDP per capita. However, I fear that until one really thinks in terms of "undersized" or "too small" when contemplating Haiti's current difficult economic circumstance, it is easy to miss the solution--a much bigger economy. 

Economies expand when businesses expand. That is why we have put efforts in helping LCS grads learn about business. At LCS, as I have written about in the past, we have added an Economics course based on Mankiw's introductory text. A number of years ago, we launched a sister non-profit, EGI for Haiti. EGI helps graduates who have finished university and been working for a few years learn how to start formal sector businesses.

Below you can read about the field trips we made this year from their economics teacher, Volunteer Kristin Soukup, in addition to comments from the students themselves.

As a part of the Philo economics course, each student had the opportunity to go on one of five different field trips to a local factory or company. They visited Barbancourt, a rum factory; Itala, a pasta factory; Topco, a business that imports, stores, and sells products such as garlic and herring; REBO, which sells coffee, peanut butter and sugar produced in Haiti; and Chabuma – focusing on the production part of the company, Durabloc, which produces concrete blocks for construction.

In each visit, various topics were discussed, including importation and exportation, rate of production, costs of production (such as electricity and water), technology and taxes. Through the field trips, students explored the relationship between business and economics, seeing these economic concepts used in real business situations and asking questions to the owners and managers. The field trips offer a very valuable opportunity for the students to apply the concepts they learn in the classroom while learning about how businesses function.

-- Kristin Soukup, Volunteer and Economics teacher

Being able to visit Barbancourt made me prouder to be a Haitian. It’s a national company so it employs a lot of people and it exports its products, so it is helping the economy of Haiti and has the opportunity to expand on that.

-- Djim Geurrier, Philo student

At Topco, I was very impressed by the technology. They need technology and electricity to keep their products at the right temperature. If they didn’t have modern technology, they would lose their products. They told us about how they pay taxes as a company. A company like this is interested in both the country and their buyers.

-- Lovely Joseph, Philo student

I had the privilege of visiting REBO. Through this visit, I was able to realize the importance of what we were learning in economics class. Since Haiti’s economy is struggling, it is important for us to become acquainted with businesses in order to improve the overall situation.

-- Lithza Joseph, Philo student



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