Post from Haiti 8/18

Sunshine, 94 deg F, humid

Update from yesterday.  Last night Rita went up to bed and in a short time came back with a stinger in her finger.  We tracked the source to a bee that landed on her shirt and it stung her as she brushed it off.  We found a large nest of bees in the outside wall of the house next to our room.  With no screen or glass in the windows they were flying right in, probably attracted by the small room light.  As she was trying to put something on her feet, she stepped on a second one and was stung again, this time no stinger left behind.  I got the stinger out of her finger as it started to swell.  The finger is still quite swollen this afternoon and may be getting more so.  Her foot has a small swollen spot, but doesn’t appear to be serious.  She is taking Ibuprofen and we hope that it will start receding.

The seminar is off to a great start.  We were late getting to UNOGA, which isn’t unusual, and got a late start.  After handing out T-shirts, name tags and some materials, I gave them a brief introduction to the seminar and we got started.

As the first event of the day I showed the Quick Items:  M and Arrow slide.  Some people instantly see an M in the middle of the slide, others see four arrows pointing up, down and to either side outward from the center.  The group was roughly evenly split between the two possibilities.  After some discussion about individual differences, in the way people see the same object, we moved on. The students were interested and responsive.

The Make A Wish exercise, asks students to write down and describe something that they would like do or have or accomplish in the future.  They are to describe their wish and how they want to see it fulfilled in as much detail as they can.  Some students found this difficult, as I expected.  I gave it to get an idea of their ability to see possibilities for their future.  I will give it again as a post- exercise to see if these abilities change as a result of the seminar.

The Classroom Arrangement exercise from Henry Markovitz’ Group in Montreal was the first of this type for the group and we had the usual glitches getting everybody to understand the procedure.  There are also some translation/interpreter  issues to be resolved, but they were minor.  Fortunately Haitian students are not shy about asking questions and we got everybody on the same page.  Some of the instructions could be improved for them but their requests for clarification also made it clear that they were thinking.  Overall, very  good for a first attempt.

After the break Rita led the group in song, starting with the children’s song “If you’re happy and you know it , clap your hands.  She used the same technique to teach English when we were last there.  In this context, it is primarily for a little fun and helps to build community in the group.


The hour of the day was mostly spent playing games .  The Haitians have little access to games and love them.  I chose Jenga for this seminar because it involves strategy and helps to build physical intuition – what will happen when I remove THIS block.  One of the 2 groups became very intense at studying the stack and finding a way to keep is standing.  The other game is Qwirkle, which is a relative of dominoes, using square tiles with colors a shapes on the surface, and is easy to learn.  I chose it because it allows strategy, thinking about future moves and fun.

It was interesting to see that some students learned it more easily than others.  I think there is learning value in holding physical objects and manipulating them.  We will have other exercise that involve manipulation of objects and will provide time to play the game periodically.

We ended the day with the introduction of journaling.  Students are to write at least 5 sentences each day about something learned or an insight that they want to remember.  This is a daily homework exercise.  I will not collect these, but we will start each class by allowing a few students share something that they wrote.  I will also attempt to get permission from a few students to share something with me from their journal that I can take home as examples.

A closing comment:  a student told me that the most important thing he learned today was that problems can have multiple solutions and that different solutions work best for different people.



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