As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, I recently traveled to Haiti and that trip taught me a lot. So in this blog post, I will share 5 things Haiti taught me.
1. My Love for Culture and People of Color
Living in America in predominantly white places, I have never really gotten a chance to be surrounded by people of color for extended periods of time. The feelings I got in Haiti were quite similar to the ones I got after watching Black Panther. It’s hard to describe, but there is so much power in being around people who look like you. Very cliche, but I felt at home in Haiti. I didn’t feel like I stuck out, I didn’t feel out of place, and I loved it! Also, I loved the culture. Coming from a household of blended cultures (Nigerian and Kenyan) it was no surprise I fell in love the with Haitian culture and the similarities I found between it and the environment I was raised in. I saw simplicity, work ethic, and joy just to name a few but also just a strong sense of community. Most of all I saw beauty in the way the people around me lived their lives, and I found God at work in the details, the big picture… I saw Him in it all.
2. Paved Roads and Driving Laws
The last time I went to Kenya, I was two, so I don’t remember much. I rely on the stories of my parent’s childhoods to paint the picture of living in a third world country. My mom has always talked about how long it takes to do things there. Doing one thing can be an all-day event, and most of the time it’s simply because of the commute. The minute we hit our first gravel/dirt road, I finally began to understand what my mom had been talking about for all those years. Paved roads are truly a blessing and driving laws are too because they save you for almost having a heart attack on the road.
3. The Importance of Communication
As a black girl, the most frequent questions I got when I was in Haiti were are you Haitian, do you speak Creole, and do you speak French, to all of which I answered no. People were in shock, mainly because I look like them and they just assumed I was or could do all of the above, but also because it really limited my ability to talk with them. Thankfully I had wonderful translators around that were more than amazing, but I felt so entitled and even rude to be in their country without knowing even a little Creole, yet they knew anywhere from one to four languages. To say the least, I don’t plan on visiting a country without knowing at least a few common phrases. But in all honesty, I’m in the process of learning Creole as you reading this.
4. People are People
Cultures are different but people are people. While languages don’t always translate, smiles do and thank God for that! It’s funny how when you can’t communicate very well sometimes that’s when it’s easiest to see someone’s heart. It’s easy to get distracted by looks, status, etc., but nothing says more about a person than they’re joy, they’re smiling, and their heart.
5. Less Is More
A lesson I’ve been learning recently is that there are pros and cons to everything. I love living in America, but because of the privilege I have living here, a lot of my worries and concerns are of things that don’t actually matter. To put it more simply, the things I worry about most are things that I am privileged to actually worry about. But living in a third world country, many people only worry about the things that actually matter: God, food, clothing, and family. It’s amazing how short that list is how long I make mine sometimes. Or how often times we think things will bring us happiness when in reality the exact opposite is true.
So those are a few of the things I learned while in Haiti. If you haven’t already, I hope you get a chance to visit the wonderful country. It is beautiful!
Until next time, get up, get moving, and be salt and light.