The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

Haiti Solidarity Club Plans Sixth Trip to Haiti

The Haiti Solidarity Club is returning to sister school, SOPUDEP, in Haiti to continue in its efforts to assist in rebuilding the country. The club has planned to bolster the school’s impact on Haitian youth by introducing a supplemental curriculum which covers programs that might be taken for granted in America: science, sports and arts.

February 17 will mark the club’s sixth trip to Haiti, an annual venture funded solely by the students themselves. In addition, the club has raised more than $30,000 through open mic concerts, community outreach and a silent auction. The money will be going directly toward teacher pay and materials for the sister school.

“I think the trip is what makes our club really unique,” club Co-president senior Devan Tormey said. “The point of it isn’t to just give a little money and then walk away, but solidarity. It’s important because it shows the Haitians that we really mean it, and that were willing to give up a week of our lives to work with them and show our support in person.”

In the past, the club has focused on rebuilding the school after the devastation of the earthquake, locating and rebuilding a new site for the future of SOPUDEP, and providing essential amenities such as clean water for the students and the surrounding community. However, this year’s trip centers around expanding the existing curriculum that SOPUDEP students follow by providing necessities such as microscopes, art supplies and sports equipment.

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“They only really have the core classes; they don’t have anything involving art, anything involving music, theater, all these electives that we have at our school,” club Co-president senior Louise Stephan said.

The club members will also be giving lessons on how to properly use the science equipment and water purification tablets. This will be a daunting task given that a majority of the Haitian population speaks either French or Creole – a language based on a mix of French, English and various African dialects. The club has worked hard to translate the necessary instructions both into these languages and into a form of an easy-to-understand pictographic comic. They will be leaving pamphlets with future labs and lessons that can be carried out after the members have returned to the United States.

“We’re basically starting a program there that didn’t really exist before,” Devan said. “Hopefully we’re starting something that will last.”

Beyond just the club members, the surrounding community has taken action to provide for SOPUDEP as well. Accent Arts, located in Palo Alto, donated various art supplies that will be taken to Haiti, while West Valley music donated a case of 50 recorders that will be used to kickstart a music program at the school. The purchase of the microscopes and lab tools was made possible by a grant from Los Altos Kiwanis, a non-profit group supporting education and goodwill. Several companies also donated goods to the club’s recent silent auction.

“We really have a great team this year,” club adviser Seth Donnelley said. “We’ve got some motivated students that have been really dedicated to what they’re doing. A lot of new students have gotten involved… I’m very pleased with the entire team.”

In addition to the 24 club members participating in the trip, math teacher Jeanne Yu and Superintendent Dr. Barry Groves will be making the trip to Haiti.

“All the people we meet in Haiti are really passionate about what they do,” Louise said. “Rea [Director and founder of SOPUDEP], the teachers at the elementary school, the political activists are really passionate, and I feel like that’s really contagious. As the week goes on, you really begin to share that passion.”

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