By Canes Camil, Esperandieu Cenat, and Pierre-Louis Joizil
Siena College, an AACSB-accredited college located in Loudonville, New York, USA.
We are three Haitian senior-level students who lost our university when it collapsed in the earthquake this January 2010. Our futures were uncertain because we could not finish our studies and graduate. Through the efforts of the Xaverian Brothers and full scholarships from Siena College, we are now able to finish our degrees in May 2011. Our majors are in engineering/physics and business management. After we graduate, we will return to Haiti and help rebuild our country. We speak French and Creole, and have learned enough English to take courses at Siena College. We have projects that we will implement in rural villages throughout Haiti. It is these villages that will in turn help to rebuild the country, and provide sufficient food, education, and work for the people of Haiti. We want to be part of that rebuilding.
Canes, pictured in the above photo in the center, is an engineering/physics student. He works in Dr. Weatherwax’s Physics Lab on small, power-generating devices, like the ones used in Antarctica. He will use what he has learned to implement small-energy generation projects in rural Haiti—giving some areas their first chance to have a simple and cheap energy supply.
Esperandieu (pictured on the left in the Trading Lab) and Pierre-Louis (pictured above on the right in the Trading Lab) work in the Trading Room in the School of Business where they are learning how money works around the world. We each have advisors who allow us to work on research projects that will dovetail with the work we will do when we return to Haiti.
Esperandieu’s senior thesis will allow him to plan and begin implementing an orphanage in his village. Right now, just providing one meal a day is a challenge.
Pierre-Louis has secured land in his home town and is raising money to build its first high school. He remembers walking more than two hours (each way) to school every day, sometimes just to find that the teacher had not been paid and didn’t show-up. His school will change that.
We are all committed to education, service, the environment, and agriculture. This, we believe is the best hope for Haiti.
We love living in the United States, but find it very different than Haiti. We miss our families and our neighborhood communities—we miss hearing our language all around us. But, we know we are fortunate that Siena College has provided us with this opportunity to finish our education. Siena’s professors come from all over the world and each one of them has welcomed us. Some of them even speak French.
This summer we saw our first baseball game, fireworks display and 4th of July picnic, Washington, D.C., New York City, and the United Nations. We even had Brooklyn, New York pizza. We have so much to bring back to Haiti, including the memories of our lives with two Siena College professors. Dr. Pat and Tom Coohill have provided us with a place to stay—in a big house two miles from campus. We also have the generosity of so many of the Siena community, who have provided us with bicycles to get to school every day, cell phones and books, clothing (including the security of winter boots). We worry how we will cope with the snow when it arrives.
All in all, we are grateful for the opportunities Siena College is providing. And, we look forward to making a difference in Haiti when we return.