**Originally Written Tuesday January 1st.
Looking back, I cannot believe that tomorrow is our last full day in Haiti. At the beginning of the trip the days seemed to go by really slow. I think part of that has to do with the serene atmosphere at our hotel. You can always hear the waves crashing against the beach. When we are out working and interacting with our partners though the day goes by super fast.
When we were at the university on Saturday, we talked with the students for a few hours and it seemed like no time at all. One of my favorite memories was talking eith Reggie and talking about different kinds of music and then being able to teach him the Cupid Shuffle. After visiting the Antenor Firmin University, we went to visit the orphanage. I was definitely hesitant about visiting the orphanage unsure of how in need the children are. We were immediately greeted with smiles and the kids all latched on to someone. Playing with the kids at the orphanage for the few hours we were there seemed like no more than a half hour had passed by. Sarah who hung around with me the entire time loved my hair and gave me a new hairstyle. I normally wouldn't wear my hair in the pigtail style she gave me but it made me happy to help her pass the time doing something she wouldn't normally do. I couldn't communicate with her very easily as she knew little English, but I did find out that she was 18 years old. She didn't want to play soccer with the other kids but spent the time watching everyone and telling me I was beautiful. I left the orphanage feeling sad that we had to leave so soon but I was proud of all of the gifts we were able to provide. Between last year's class fundraising money to provide food for the kids and all of my class' donations, we had more than enough gifts for two orphanages.
On Sunday, we attended the Antenor Firmin University graduation ceremony. Dr. Oliver participated by giving a speech with the help of Branley translating. I definitely felt like an honored guest as we were given the same flower pins as the graduates. Even though I could not understand what was being said throughout the two hour ceremony, it was interesting to see. I appreciated having Purdue and all of us there being publicly recognized during the ceremony for the vast amount of textbooks we had donated. In total, I think we gathered at least 105 books to give to the university. Gideon Eugene was also excited about the chemistry labs that we could possibly bring in the future.
Monday was a very busy day for the group. We woke up bright and early to have breakfast and visit North Coast Farms. While there, a group was able to make candles from beeswax. The molds for the candles were beautiful and they had different candles ranging from two kinds of angels, flowers, and cool spheres. Edson gave my group a tour of the rest of the farm and we learned a lot about the different plants being grown and what they were used for. He also took us to see the goats which they have been breeding. He said when they started, they had only ten goats and were up to 34 goats now. He had questions for us about them such as how soon they should be bred and I could see the need of a different kind of mating system or crossbreeding to be done to help improve the milk production of the goats. There will soon be a cheese factory built so the milk from the goats will be very important for its success. After leaving the farm, we started the journey to the Citadelle. It was an intense drive most of the way up until we reached a parking lot and had to walk the rest of the way. We were told the walk would take about 45 minutes from that point, and it was definitely a workout. The path was very steep at points and challenged most of us athletically I think. When I reached the top where the Citadelle was, it was a beautiful view. We were going to tour the inside of the Citadelle but we needed to wait for the rest of the group before we started the tour. While waiting, some clouds blew in and we were inside the clouds. The view disappeared to a fog and it became really cold. Unfortunately we missed out on being to see the view from the top of the Citadelle because the clouds blocked the view. Because we were so high up, our tour guide said that the clouds move in and that happens fairly frequently, so we just had a little bit of bad luck. We then headed back to the hotel for a long night of dancing bringing in the new year.
The next day we just stayed at the hotel resting and recuperating from all of the New Years celebrations. A good number of people were able to stay up until the sunrise. I could not stay up past 4, but I did wake up again at 6 to be able to see the sunrise. I had planned like most to lay out on the beach for most of the day and tan, but unfortunately, this was the only rainy and cloudy day we had on the trip. We did find time to make the Boilermaker Special in the sand which was finished to actually look like a train by Sarah and me.
Tomorrow I am looking forward to visiting CTEAD, as my group is looking to collect as much information as we can to help this partner in the future. The week has passed by so quickly but I feel like we are learning a lot and are definitely becoming a close knit group.