Greg & Katie in Fontaine (Part 1)
Our names are Greg Altman and Katie Burke and we are going to be senior biology majors at Siena College in Loudonville, N.Y. in the fall.
During the summer of our junior year we decided to participate in a Summer of Service and spend six weeks in a developing country. We chose to travel to St. Gabriel's in Fontaine, Haiti, because Greg had already volunteered at St. Gabriel's School and loved his experience and I had heard many wonderful things about the students and the school.
We arrived May 8th after a wild five hour car ride from Port au Prince to Fontaine. The scenery was absolutely breathtaking. During our first week we became acclimated to the school and the students' schedules. We sat in on classes, fell in love with the cooks and their Haitian food, and found great friends in Brother Bill and Pierre Louis.
Hospitality in the Haitian culture is beyond compare and it is obvious that the folks in Fontaine want to show us their culture as much as we would like to help them succeed in English.
By the end of the first week we found a rhythm and began teaching classes. Everyday we teach at least four classes of English either at St. Gabriel's School, which is 7th through 13th grades, or at St. Joseph's, the elementary school in Pignon, a neighboring town. Many St. Joseph's students travel to St. Gabriel's for their secondary education.
After school, we spend our afternoons playing soccer with the kids or walking down and helping at the local orphanage. Over the weekend, we explored Fontaine to the fullest and began to appreciate even more the beauty of the Haitian culture. Our Creole is not very good, so some days it can be difficult to communicate, but many of the kids are excited to be our guides and develop their English skills.
We have noticed in class that almost all of the students are engaged and show a real desire to learn. Overall, we are really enjoying our time in Haiti and hope to learn from the students as much as they learn from us over the next five weeks which we will be spending at St. Gabriel's School.
Katie & Greg