Becoming Comfortable With The Haitian Culture

By Alison Eckerle

If youre looking to get out of your comfort zone, I would definitely suggest going to a third world country.

Yes, I know its unconventional.

I spent my spring break this year in Haiti. And it was the most comfortable uncomfortable thing Ive ever done.

It was uncomfortable because I had to leave the United States around 6 a.m., and Im not a morning person. When we got to the airport in Port-au-Prince, I was uncomfortable trying to navigate a foreign airport where everyone was speaking a language I did not spend enough time trying to learn. The roads were really bumpy, and like any other American city, the air didnt smell amazing.

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After we arrived and made it to the home we were staying in, I was uncomfortable thinking about the week ahead. We would be holding teacher trainings and business seminars in some of the less safe parts of town, but that didnt scare me. I was so scared that my team wouldnt be effective in our mission. I was afraid that our ideas wouldnt transcend language and culture, and I was afraid that we wouldnt be accepted by the people we were trying to reach out to. More than anything, that feeling of uncertainty made me uncomfortable.

But I had no idea how rewarding our trip would be. The Haitian culture is so welcoming, and we were greeted with hugs, handshakes and kind words everywhere we went. People responded well to the services we were providing, and even with a language barrier we were able to have a free dialogue with the Haitian people (with the help of translators, of course).

Haiti has had a string of oppressive and corrupt governments, but the Haitian people have a hope and a positivity that is unwavering. They know they can change their situation with love and generosity, and I know thats something I could only have learned there. I had to go to another country to learn that I am the one in control of my future. So now, thoughts I have of Haiti are the most comforting I can imagine.

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