Written by: Logan Ricke
Published by: Anthony Ruberti
What I have to summarize is a life experience that was so moving, so vast that I’ll never be able to shake from my character. My winter service study abroad in Haiti pushed me to leave the only place I ever knew (Southeastern Indiana) and travel overseas to the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. I came back with images burned into my brain that will not soon be forgotten. Everything from the streets to the people, from the water to the food was different than what I’m used to.
Growing up I was told to appreciate what I have and “you don’t know how good you got it here”. Well, after a week in Haiti, these are some of the most useful life lessons to learn and learn early. Being an average standing student at a major university, I sometimes feel like just a number, but traveling abroad into a foreign country with the intention of doing good, I realized that the native people there didn’t care about anything other than my intentions. My intentions were good and that was all that mattered to them. I was even looked up to by students because of what I accomplished. The people there were so curious about life at Purdue and how they could get the chance to study there. They wanted to know everything about me: from how many years I had been in school, to my favorite music, and even how big my family was. No matter how vague some answers may have been like “I have ten people in my family,” they went berserk with every response and would fire off more questions.
The United States is more or less a big brother to developing countries, and I understand now that it’s our duty to assist these less privileged countries in their growth rather than sit idly by while they’re “crashing their bicycles” time and time again. If we taught them “how to ride the bike”, they could do it themselves after that. I think that is our role in the world, but this doesn’t mean, “get in and get out”. I believe (after this trip) that we should teach them how to help themselves. This method was what the traveling group practices and what I believe will benefit Haiti the most in the long run.
Ben Franklin once said, “…I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it.” This goes hand in hand with this group’s mission, and even though this trip has ended, our mission isn’t completed.
It was a privilege to get to see more of the world through this trip, and I cannot begin to thank everybody involved with this trip for playing a part in one of the most influential weeks of my life. Especially Dr. Russell and Dr. Oliver for coordinating such a memorable trip, Thank You to Branly and Blucher for their expertise of the area and patience with everybody, and lastly Thank You to all participants and travelers of the trip.
We all truly made a difference and you’re all a pretty cool group of people to travel with!