Haiti Tragedy Hits Home for First-year Student
Alma College first-year student Jessica Alexandre was born and raised in Florida, but the recent tragedy in Haiti hit home — her parents’ home, to be exact. They emigrated from the country to the United States over 20 years ago.
The majority of her family still lives in Haiti, where she frequently visits. In fact, before the earthquakes struck, she planned to visit again in June. Her plane ticket has since been cancelled.
She learned of the first earthquake the way college students learn about most things: Facebook. Her initial reaction was ambitious; she wanted to go to Haiti to directly help those in need.
Instead, she did what she realistically could do; she called her mother.
After posting pictures of family members online, her mother received a phone call last week. She was told that some of her family members were alive, though a few were injured and living on the streets, like so many Haitians. She didn’t have the opportunity to talk to them directly.
The status of one of Alexandre’s aunts is still unknown, however.
Alexandre says because of negative stereotypes about Haitians, she has dealt with ignorance many times in her life. This time is different.
“I’m surprised so many people care,” she says. “I told my family, and they said, ‘You’re at a good school.’”
But she doesn’t want people to feel sorry for her. She is quick to point out she’s not suffering as deeply as those who are in Haiti right now.
“It is the poorest country in the world, and they can’t help themselves,” she says. “My hope for them is that they will unite as people.”
Alexandre, who was drawn to Alma College both because of the weather and the experiences of her high school sports coaches, shared her story at the Alma College Chapel’s weekly worship service.
“I’m glad she spoke because it shows the real connection we have to one another,” says Chaplain Carol Gregg.
The Chapel took an offering at this service that was donated to Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, the emergency and refugee program of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. It seems students don’t want the generosity to end here, though.
“Students asked that the donations don’t stop,” says Gregg. “They want to work with local churches and organize spaghetti dinners.”
Posted: Mon, January 25th, 2010 at 9:33AM