My time in Haiti flew by. Although there were times when I felt like I had not been home in ages, I think this was mostly because I had grown so accustomed to life in Haiti amongst the Volunteers. Deacon Moynihan, his family, the Volunteers and all of the Staff at LCS made my transition into life at the school go so seamlessly that I never felt like an outsider on campus. Having become a true member of the LCS community, today’s goodbyes were difficult.
After one last Morning Prayer I was able to get one last picture with all of the Volunteers. This would be the last time that we were all together, since graduation preparation was in full swing, and I wanted to make sure that I captured the moment. I would say goodbye to them all individually later on, but I knew from that moment on the day would be hectic.
Thanks to the help of my translators, I was able to complete all of my surveys! After one of the translators returned to the first business that I visited there were still a handful of surveys to be completed. As a result, another person who has been helping me was able to make a few phone calls to former LCS students make sure that they were all completed. I am so grateful for all of their help! Without them, I definitely would not have completed half of the work that I did while I was here. Due to all of their hard work, I was able to spend the morning inputting the last of the data from the surveys into an Excel Worksheet to analyze later on. Although we were unable to survey a population of unemployed Haitians, I am interested to see what the surveys reveal about the other demographic populations of Haiti. This analysis should not take too long, and hopefully will be completed over the next week or so.
The rest of the morning was spent making sure that everything was taken care of for my departure at 11:00 AM. I packed up the rest of my items, made sure that I had my passport available, and finally, I said goodbye to the Volunteers. While some of the Volunteers will be returning to LCS to complete a second (or third) year of service, others will be returning home to the United States to begin the next chapter in their lives. I know that wherever they will be come September they will all be successful, as throughout my time at LCS they served as excellent examples of hard-working, loving, and dedicated individuals.
The ride to the airport was uneventful. I was accompanied by Deacon Moynihan, who was nice enough to walk me into the airport and make sure that I was checked-in before he said goodbye. We both separated ways hopeful about the future of the relationship between PC and The Haitian Project. Who knows, maybe next year LCS will receive another Smith Fellow!
The Port-au-Prince Airport is fairly small, so I was able to easily navigate to my departing gate. I was about two hours early, so I headed upstairs to grab some food at one of the cafes. It was nice to sit down and reflect on my experience as I watched other travelers sit with their families and friends to do the same. There were so many people in the airport who had gone down to Haiti to do service, but it was incredible to sit there and think about just how different everyone’s experience could have been. While in Haiti I learned so much about the problems plaguing the people, while also meeting incredible young people who were ready to change their situations. I will never forget some of the students that I met, the smiles on some of the children when they waved to me across campus, and the unbelievable community that I found at LCS.
After two hours of waiting for my flight, I got pretty anxious and had to start moving around. Since the terminal was small and there were two flights going out at once, I decided to forfeit my seat and go stand to wait the remaining half hour til I boarded. My plane took off about forty minutes later than expected, but I did not mind the delay once I boarded. It was great to sit and relax in my seat knowing I could fall asleep for the next four hours. However, that plan was immediately interrupted when I noticed the man next to me had the hiccups. At first I did not mind, but after an hour into the flight when I noticed that the hiccups were there to stay, I decided to abandon my plan to sleep. As a result, I spent the remaining time on the plane thumbing through the magazines, solving some of the puzzles, and attempting to fix my headphones so that I could block out the noises coming from the man next to me.
When we finally touched down in New York at around 7:00 I was excited to see my family and escape the presence of the hiccupping man. It took a while to reach our gate, and by the time we were finally allowed off the plane I practically sprinted to Customs out of excitement to be reunited with my parents. Once I grabbed my luggage, I found my parents and best friend from home, Paige, waiting for me outside! They greeted me with flowers and balloons, and I was truly ecstatic to be in their presence after a long day of travelling. We headed straight to dinner as today was also my parents’ twenty-seventh wedding anniversary, and we had double the reason to celebrate! It is great to be back.
Although I am happy to be home to spend some time with my family, I could not have been happier with the last twenty-five days of my life. I cannot thank the Father Smith Selection Committee enough for awarding me with this unbelievable opportunity! My experiences in Haiti have taught me about the power of the Catholic Church, the value of education, and also a great deal about myself. This journey has been unbelievable, and I could not be happier that I was able to complete it as a representative and extension of the Providence College community.