Hope Begins

Left: Principal Marjorie Mombrun (LCS ’07) speaks with prospective incoming students and their parents after Saturday’s exam; Right: Faculty and staff begin correcting the exams. Pictured from left to right are Esther Paul (LCS ‘00), Director of Operations-Haiti; Principal Marjorie Mombrun; Junior Staff member Obed Gilles (LCS ’09); librarian and French professor Marielle Laprès (LCS ’07); and Direction staff member Daëlle Edmond.

Each year in May, LCS becomes a flurry of activity. Hundreds of eager students arrived early in the morning last Saturday to take our entrance exam. This is the second step in the selection process for the incoming sizyèm (U.S. 7th grade) class. Those who finish in the top 100 will go on to have personal interviews. From those 100, sixty will be chosen to continue LCS's mission of empowering leaders for Haiti's better and stronger future. I have had the opportunity to witness both the joy of those who enter and the sadness of those who do not. Bittersweet couldn't have a better example. However, what makes the disappointment of those who do not enter more bearable is knowing that those who do are not at LCS for themselves but for all Haitians--in fact, for all of us. 

I have invited Obed Gilles, LCS graduate of the class of 2009 and current Junior Staff member, to share how he sees Exam Day today as an alumni, versus what he remembers from his experience.

The day I took the entrance exam in May 2002, I was very stressed because there were so many students waiting outside the gate. I was so nervous I couldn’t even finish my juice. I remember the proctor of the exam was very strict and the campus was not as complete as it is today; the building I took the exams in did not have tiled floors yet. After I finished, I was certain I was going to be a student at LCS. I rode home in a tap-tap with other students who had taken the exam and was very confident in my performance.

As a staff member I see the importance that the test has for the future of LCS. These students who are chosen will eventually be the best leaders. They will even lead the students of Haiti who do not get the chance to go to LCS.

--Obed Gilles, 2009 graduate and current Junior Staff member



Flags of America

Left to right: Katryèm (U.S. 9th grade) student, Orlando Pierre Dulièpre paints the flag of Granada; Students add details to flags with intricate designs; Fr. Carl Jean, C.S. (LCS class of 2002) distributes communion to students and Volunteers at Mass on the feast of Our Lady of Fatima. 

This week, in honor of the feast of Our Lady of Fatima, we were fortunate to have Fr. Carl Jean, C.S. (LCS class of 2002) say Mass for the community.

In preparation for graduation, we have repainted the flags of America on the walls of a building in the center of campus. This provides a visual context for the historical and regional importance of Haiti to all the nations of the Western Hemisphere. Many years ago, we prepared a guide called "America is One" to help groups prepare for coming to Haiti. Below is the selection introducing the concept of America as one from Saint John Paul II’s apostolic exhortation, Ecclesia in America, followed by my own reflection on his words. 

In Santo Domingo, when I first proposed a Special Assembly of the Synod, I remarked that “on the threshold of the third Christian millennium and at a time when many walls and ideological barriers have fallen, the Church feels absolutely duty-bound to bring into still deeper spiritual union the peoples who compose this great continent and also, prompted by the religious mission which is proper to the Church, to stir among these peoples a spirit of solidarity.” I asked that the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops reflect on America as a single entity, by reason of all that is common to the peoples of the continent, including their shared Christian identity and their genuine attempt to strengthen the bonds of solidarity and communion between the different forms of the continent’s rich cultural heritage. The decision to speak of “America” in the singular was an attempt to express not only the unity which in some way already exists, but also to point to that closer bond which the peoples of the continent seek and which the Church wishes to foster as part of her own mission, as she works to promote the communion of all in the Lord.

St. John Paul II, Ecclesia in America," #5

For most of us who were born and have been raised in the United States, embracing John Paul II’s vision of One America and One Church of America will require “unloading” the more popularly accepted, media-driven perception that the United States is unique among its regional neighbors, a veritable Tigger among far more similar countries. We are surprised when the leaders of Central American or South American countries, especially in critical comments about NAFTA, refer to Mexicans, Canadians and U.S. Americans collectively as North Americans. How much more progressive to view the entire hemisphere as a people of common heritage? To soothe our exceptionalist egos, we are tempted to say to ourselves, “Well, if we do share commonalities, it is just because the other countries are U.S. wannabes.”

Our “exceptionalism” is equally the result of our exposure to overly positive images of the U.S. promoted by zealous patriots as it is a consequence of the negative images often promulgated by “self-deprecating” anti-U.S. U.S. Americans. It is true that the United States is exceptional in the Western Hemisphere in many categories: population, economic market share, percentage of college-educated people, per capita income, literacy rate, consumption of natural resources, percentage of obesity. But are these truly significant qualifications for being different? How different is a ten-gallon bucket of water from a five-gallon bucket of water or even a gallon bucket if the water in all three buckets comes from a common origin? How much less the difference if the large bucket is increasingly dependent on the contents of the smaller buckets for its volume?

Analogies provide quick understanding; however, to really accept the validity of John Paul II’s vision, we need to explore the geographical, ethnic, cultural, theological, economic and social basis of his assertion that the Western Hemisphere is, partly in reality and even greater in potentiality, one continent, one people and, for Catholics, one Church. While we do not want to be naive in our approach or gloss over the political, class, ethnic, and racial dimensions  in and among the countries of this hemisphere, it is practical for those in search of solidarity to look first for commonality, not differences. It is far easier to achieve solidarity with people we see as ourselves rather than others.

As John Paul the Great points out, it is in the spirit of communion --  sacramental solidarity -- that we can best work through the issues that separate us such as poverty, illiteracy, politics, trade, and race. With this in mind, let us work together to raise our awareness of the particular issues Haiti faces today and to inspire in ourselves the courage to work together as one Church to solve them. 



Men Anpil, Chay Pa Lou [Many Hands Make Light Work]

Left to right: Sizyèm (U.S. 7th grade) student Julie Florine Francklin and Philo (U.S. 13th grade) student Yvelaure Théodore play hand games during the Philo-Sizyèm mentoring program; Philo students pose with their sizyèm partners and the program supervisor, Volunteer Kristin Soukup; Philo student, Evens Ducasse washes the walkway after last Thursday’s wall pour.

"Many hands make light work" rings true in every language.  We best know this as a community best from digging holes--really deep and wide holes.  Every community member, from the smallest to the tallest, is valued as a member of our work force.

In their seventh year at LCS, part of the work of the Philo class is to serve as a Guide for the rest of the student body.  They lead work groups weekly and take responsibility for dormitory cleanliness and order.  

Thanks to yet another of Christina's great ideas, this year's Philo class has participated in a mentoring program with our sizyèm class (U.S. 7th grade), meeting once a month with assigned partners and discussing different facets of life at LCS.  I’ve asked Volunteer Kristin Soukup, Philo economics teacher and mentoring program supervisor, to reflect on the benefits of this activity.

The Philo-Sizyèm mentoring program provides an opportunity for students from these two classes to form a unique relationship.  The Philo students learned how to be mentors, and the sizyèm students were paired with an older student they could be comfortable talking to and could look to as a role model.  Over the course of the year, I could see relationships forming, the students becoming more like brothers and sisters.  The sizyèm students especially appreciated the opportunity to spend time with the Philo students, who they looked up to as the leaders of the school.  It has been a valuable program, encouraging the Philo students to pass on what they have received, and helping the sizyèm students better understand the daily activities of LCS as well as their responsibilities at the school.  Throughout the year, the program has built a stronger community between the oldest and youngest students of the school. This is especially important because, through this link, the entire school community can be strengthened.

When the students met this past week, they discussed the topic of work at LCS.  Sizyèm students participate with their groups in Netwayaj (campus clean up) each day, which is led by the Philo students of each group. The Philo and sizyèm students shared their ideas about work: how work is done at LCS, how it compares to their previous experiences of work, and the reasons and purpose behind the work done at LCS. --Kristin Soukup, Volunteer




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