Saturday, August 29, 2015

Three Lessons I've Learned

Ou met jwenn atik sa an Kreyol pi ba la.
While making the decision to move to Cap Haitien, I considered two things. First, I considered that the move from Cange to Cap Haitien might be as different as was the move from Clemson, South Carolina to Cange. Second, moving to Cap would mean a chance to experience Haiti from a completely different vantage point, helping me understand the Haitian context more deeply.
Photos are textures from around the house in Cap Haitien
To the first point, two months after moving to Cap Haitien, I can already say that yes, the move here has been just as different as was the move to Cange. I’m now living independently, I’m more mobile, and I’m living in a city where every single person doesn’t know me. All of this makes for a pretty unfamiliar environment and figuring out entirely new ways of doing things.

To the second point, after two months in Cap, I’m already learning many new things. All of this new learning has made me reflect on what I learned the previous two years in Cange. So, since I’m feeling a bit of a personal reflection post, I want to share the three most significant lessons I’ve learned since moving to Haiti.

The first lesson, which has really been a strong affirmation of something already present in my life, is to constantly learn and educate myself whenever given the chance. The challenges that face Haiti and our world today are incredibly complicated. The more I learn, the better equipped I am to identify the challenges and contribute to solutions. Often, the solutions will have to be just as complicated as the history leading up to the present day problem. I've learned that all of this learning requires great humility and the ability to admit fault. And it requires grace and forgiveness.
In my quest for learning, I recently read a book about Alan Mulally’s leadership at Ford Motor Company several years ago. Mulally arrived at Ford to a senior management that had a culture of presenting their operations as functioning without issue, despite the fact that the company clearly had massive problems. The management was afraid to present what they knew was going wrong, in case they were to be fired for being the problem themselves. But Mulally wanted everyone on the team to learn all that was going wrong. He reiterated over and over to his staff that they were not the problem, but rather they had a problem to fix, and that once they could see and understand the problems, the entire team could work together to solve them. He created a culture perpetual of learning, and Mulally’s team accomplished huge feats within that company.

Sometimes when we are ignorant, we act in detrimental ways. That means in our ignorance, we can often be part of the problem. Admitting fault or ignorance is not weakness. Weakness is choosing to not acknowledge what is wrong, not admitting we do not understand, refusing to learn, and refusing to act. But when we constantly question and learn, we can change our behavior into something more productive. Through learning, we can become a stronger part of the solution.

The second lesson I’ve learned? Go! This is a compliment to the first lesson, not a contradiction, because learning often happens by doing. Situations often call for more immediate action, while the more long term and complicated nuances are worked out over time.
The Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Elect Michael Curry said in a sermon at General Convention, “GO!” We are supposed to GO! We have talents. They might not yet be fully formed, but we must use those talents and not allow them to go to waste. Ultimately, nothing can change without action, and if one waits around too long, trying to learn everything there is to know before taking action, we can miss great opportunities.

I am inspired by Paul Farmer and Partners in Health (Zanmi Lasante) and their drive for action. They have learned, and adapted, and improved, and fought to be a part of solutions in health care in Haiti and around the world. They owe much of what they have accomplished to what they have learned by going and doing.

This is not to say take action recklessly and rewards and solutions will manifest. That is not what PIH/ZL does. PIH/ZL learns by doing, calculating the next move with the best information available. They employ talents of diverse backgrounds and learn from each other through the process. We need more of that.
The third lesson is to have an absolutely crazy level of hope. The world is full of suffering, with people in situations seemingly without resolution. There are countless examples just in Haitian history of the evil that humans can inflict on one another. And each day in Haiti, people living in poverty are visible all around—victims of prolonged injustice.

But that’s not the entire story.

Over hundreds of years, European powers enslaved millions of people from Africa, exploiting them through forced labor. Then one day, a movement began in the French colony on Hispaniola, and in a relatively small period of time Haiti became the world’s first (and still only) nation created through a successful slave revolt. I can think of few things as inspiring and hopeful as that. One doesn’t even have to imagine, one can look at history, to see the profound ways that this event loosened chains around the world, cracked the structures of injustice, and began to build a new world of freedom.
The world today is full of people that push my level of hope to even crazier heights. I am incredibly proud to be a part of the Episcopal Church, so I’ll take the Episcopal Church international missionaries as one example. I work with colleagues who are living around the world doing work like supporting organizations amending gang relations in El Salvador, providing pastoral care in Italy to people fleeing parts of the Middle East and Northern Africa, counseling abused female migrant workers in Hong Kong, and assisting post-Apartheid racial reconciliation efforts in South Africa. That is crazy hopeful!

I have crazy hope, too, from Jesus Christ. I relate to Jesus first and foremost as an example. He is to me in many ways the example of how one is supposed to be in the world. His example is the path to justice and reconciliation. And it is with his example that I see the goodness of God alive in others. Both Christians and non-Christians are living in the world, across the street from where I live and thousands of miles away, embodying this goodness every day.
So as I’m now feeling settled in Cap Haitien, I give thanks for what I have learned, the things I have done and the examples of hope I have witnessed. I pray for guidance in my life to constantly improve who I am and to learn as much as possible. I pray for the courage to go and do. And I continue to rely on the profound hope rooted in my faith, in my family and friends, and in the community in which I live.
Twa Leson Mwen Te Aprann

Pandan mwen te deside pou’m rete Cap Haitien, mwen te konsidere de bagay. Primye bagay la, mwen te konsidere ke delojman Cange pou Cap Haitien ka santi two diferan menm jan delojman Clemson, South Carolina a Cange te ye. Dezyem bagay la, yon chans pou rete Okap se yon chans pou mwen we Ayiti avek yon lot pespektif, pou ede’m komprann konteks Ayisyen pi byen toujou.

Pou primye pwen la, de mwa apre mwen te antre Cap Haitien, mwen ka di deja ke wi, delojman sa te diferan menm jan delojman a Cange te ye. Kounyea map viv pou kont mwen, mwen pi mobil, epi mwen rete nan yon gwo vil kote tout moun pa konnen kiyes mwen ye. Tout sa fe yon anviwonman kote’m pa abitye epi ki fe’m cheche nouvo metod pou pra swen lavi’m.

Pou dezyem pwen la, apre de mwa Okap, mwen deja ap aprann nouvo bagay la. Tout edikasyon sa fe’m reflechi sou sa mwen gen tan aprann pandan de an mwen te rete Cange. Donk, paske mwen santi mwen vle ekri yon pawol pesonel, mwen vle pataje twa leson pi impotan ki mwen te aprann depi mwen te rive Ayiti.

Primye leson a, ki se plis yon afimasyon de yon bagay ki deja nan lavi’m, se pou cheche aprann e cheche edikasyon nen pot jan ki posib. Difikilte yo ki devan nou Ayiti e nan tout mond lan vreman komplike. Le’m aprann plis, mwen gen plis kapasite pou idantifye difikilte yo e kontribye a solisyon yo. Souvan, solisyon yo ap komplike menm jan ak istwa kit e kreye pwoblem yo jounnen joudia. Mwen aprann ke tout edikasyon sa mande anpil imilite, epi fos pou admet fault. Epi li mande fave e padon.

Nan demand pou aprann, mwen te li yon liv sou Alan Mulally’s gesyon nan Ford Motor Company. Mulally te rive Ford pou we yon administrasyon ki gen yon kilti pou presante tout operasyon tankou yo pa gen pwoblem, malgre ke konpayi te gen gwo gwo pwoblem. Administrasyon an te pe pou presante sa ki yo konnen pat mache byen, pase yo pe bos la ka revoke yo paske li ka we se yo ki pwoblem nan. Men Mulally te vle tout manb ekip la pou aprann tout sa ki pa bon nan konpayi a. Li di plizye fwa ke se pa moun andan staf la ki pwoblem nan, se yo menm ki gen yon pwoblem pou resoud, e le yo ka we e komprann pwoblem yo, tout ekip ap travay tet ansanm pou rezoud yo. Mulally te kreye yon kilti jan moun toujou ap aprann, epi ekip li te fe gwo travay nan konpayi.

Pa fwa, le nou inyoran, nou fe bagay ki detwi nou. Sa vle di, nan inyorans nou, souvan nou fe pati de pwoblem yo. Pou admet fot ou inyorans se pa yon febles. Yon febles se pou chwazi pa rekonet sa ki pa bon, pou pa admet ke nou pa komprann, pou refize aprann, epi pou refize pran aksyon. Men le nou kontinye kesyone e aprann, nou ka chanje jan nou ye pou vinn pi pwodiktif. Avek edikasyon kon sa, nou vin yon pi fo pati se solisyon yo.

Dezyem leson mwen te aprann? Ale ! Sa se yon konpliman pou primye leson a, li pa kontredi li, paske souvan nou aprann le nou fe. Souvan, sitiyasyon yo mande pou nou prann aksyon imedyatman, pandan nou jere sa ki plis konplike nan long tem.

Evek pou Legliz Episcopal Michael Curry te preche nan gran reyinyon, “ALE!” Nou ta sipoze ALE! Nou gen talan. Petet yo poko finn fome, men nou dwe itilize talan nou yo pou pa pemet yon gaspiye. Finalman, anyen pa ka chanje san aksyon, epi si nou pran twop tan pou ale, pou aprann tout sa ki la pou aprann anvan nou pran aksyon, nou kapab pedi yon gwo opotinite.

Paul Farmer e Zanmi Lasante enspire anpil paske yon deside ale. Yo aprann, yo adapte, yo amelyore, epi yo goumen pou yo ka fomen solisyon sante an Ayiti e lot kote. Se jan yo aprann pandan yo ale ki fe yo akonpli tout sa yo fe.
Mwen pa vle di pou nou fe aksyon san pridans epi nap jwenn sikse. Se pa konn sa Zanmi Lasante travay. Zanmi Lasante aprann pandan yo travay, men yo kalkile chak nouvo bagay ki yo fe avek tout infomasyon ki disponib. Yo itilize talan plizye moun avek plizye konnesans jan yon ka aprann lot pandan tout pwosesis. Nou bezwen sa anpil.
Twazyem leson a se pou gen yon nivo espwa ki fou. Mond lan plen moun kap soufri, avek moun ki nan sitiyasyon ki sanble pa gen solisyon. Gen plizye egzanp selman nan istwa Ayiti pou move bagay ki yon moun kap fe sou lot. Epi chak jou an Ayiti, moun ki viv an povrete ap visib—viktim de injistis pwolonje.
Men pawol la pa fini la.

Pou plizye syek, Ewopeyen yo te mete milyon de moun Afriken nan esklavaj, pou eksplwate yo pou travay. Men yon jou, yon mouvman te komanse nan ti koloni Franse nan il Ispanyola, epi apre yon ti tan, Haiti te vin primye (e toujou le sel) peyi ki te fet apre yon revolt esklav. Mwen pa ka jwenn lot bagay ki bay men plis enspirasyon e espwa ke sa. Ou pa bezwen imajine, ou ka gade istwa, pou we ke revolisyon sa te dekole esklavaj, te fisi estrikti injisitis, e te komanse konstrwi yon nouvo mond ki lib.

Mond la joudia li plen moun ki mete nivo espwa mwen pi wo toujou. Mwen se yon fye manb nan Legliz Episkopal, donk map prann misyone entenasyonal nan legliz la pou yon egzanp. Mwen travay avek koleg kap rete nan plizye peyi epi yap fe travay tankou sipote oganizasyon an El Salvador kap amelyore relasyon yo antre gang yo, bay konsey pastoral an Italy pou moun kap kite Lafrik ak Mwayen Oryan, konsey pou fi ki te abize ki te imigre a Hong Kong pou travay, epi asiste rekonsilyasyon rasyal an Sud Afrik apre Aparteid. Se sa ki bay espwa ki fou !

Mwen gen yon espwa fou tou nan Jezi Kris. Mwen we Jesi tankou yon egzanp. Li menm nan plizye fason se yon egzanp jan yon sipoze viv nan mond lan. Egzanp pa’l se yon wout pou jistis e rekonsilyasyon. Epi se avek egzanp pa’l ke mwen we bonte Bondye ap viv nan ke lot moun nan. Gen moun ki Kretyen e pa Kretyen, sa ki bo kote e sa ki rete lwen anpil, ki enkopore bonte sa chak jou.

Donk kounyea, jan mwen santi map vin stab Cap Haitien, mwen di Bondye mesi pou tout sa ki mwen te apran, tout bagay ki mwen te fe, epi tout egzanp pou espwa ki mwen te we. Mwen priye pou direksyon nan lavi’m pou kontinye amelyore kiyes mwen ye epi pou aprann tout sa ki posib. Mwen priye pou kouraj pou ale ! Epi mwen kontinye konte sou gwo espwa ki gen baz nan lafwa mwen, nan fanmi e zanmi mwen yo, epi nan kominote kote mwen rete.
I owe much of my passion for reading and continuously learning to my grandmother, Nana Doris, who passionately did both of those activities her entire life. I love you and miss you.

Mwen vin genyen pasyon pou lekti ak edikasyon kontinyel gras a grann mwen, Nana Doris, ki te fe de aktivite sa yo avek anpil pasyon pou tout lavi'l. Mwen renmen w e mwen sonje w.

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