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25669: Nlbo: locally published(A Reflection on the Haitian Graduates of 2005) (fwd)
The following appeared on the July 2005 issue of the Boston Haitian Reporter
under the title of:
Supporting the Class of 2005 and Beyond
Attending commencement ceremonies has been an annual occurrence during my 25
years in the education field. However, this yearâs graduations captured my
attention more than the previous ones. Commencement exercises for Cambridge
Rindge and Latin School (CRLS) class of 2005 and that of the Weston Jesuit School
of Theology (WJST) had kept me bewildered and pondering one more time on the
Educational state, interest and involvement of the Haitian community.
As a parent of a college student and one entering a higher institution in the
fall, I have been living young Haitiansâ lives through my childrenâs lenses,
their yahoogroups, and web sites. I have attended some national and local
student conferences and got to be aware of the second generationsâ concerns,
their love for Haiti and their eagerness to be integrated in the community. I
have also seen a generation of college student that is basically on their own
navigating two distinct cultures.
I have been addressing the needs to provide a nurturing and welcoming
community to Haitian college students since l995 in my church community to no avail.
The Haitian community is so fragmented, so unfocused that they donât think of
the university students who have no âfamiliesâ around them during school
breaks or long holiday weekends such as Thanksgiving.
When I ponder on each Graduating class of 2005, Haitian students literarily
âbeat the odds.â Graduating from High school and succeeding in college
without the expectation and support of influential segments of oneâs community or
any close role models is also a miracle.
I doubt that the larger Haitian community knew that Littane D. Bien Aime, one
of the Executive board members of Cambridge Rindge and Latin School (CRLS)
class of 2005 walked up seven times to receive various awards and scholarships
on award night. Joanne Randolph, the daughter of a first generation Haitian
immigrant not only got five awards and scholarships, she was the Vice President
of CRLS senior class of 2005. There was no Haitian radio host, no media to
report âliveâ that Gregory Osias represented the Black race when he stood in
front of a crowd of close to 1,000 and read the speech as the President of
Cambridge Rindge and Latin School class of 2005. Modelyn Pierre was the secretary
of the CRLS class of 2005.
Given the unprecedented educational and leadership accomplishment of those
young Haitians, the Haitian Flag should have been waving in the War Memorial
field of Cambridge Rindge and Latin the evening of June 9th 2005. There should
have been a crowd of Haitian community leaders, mentors, clergy members that
those young Haitiansâ parents go to, to applaud the success of those promising
young people. The absence of the âvisibleâ and âaudibleâ âcommunity
leadersâ to witness actual leadership presence of the emerging second generation of
Haitians in a school with 02138 zip code is tangible evidence that young
Haitians and education are not in the radar screen of the Boston Haitian community.
I go to many parishes (protestant and catholic, Black and white churches) in
which the graduates' names are in bulletins. The entire congregation
publicly recognize the graduates in one form or another. However, Lattine
Bien-Aimeâs, Gregory Osias, Joanne Randolph, Modelyn Pierreâs names would less likely
be in any Haitian church bulletin, or any Haitian paper or website besides the
Though Lizandre Lamour only received one award, she was a very active student
involving in mentoring, youth advocacy, and rallying for more minority
students to be placed in advanced placement (AP) classes. Her engaging activities
were featured twice in the Cambridge Chronicle. As a parent going to school
myself and working, she made me feel guilty by reminding me she had to withdraw
as an Executive board member of the class of 2005 because I couldnât bring her
to the weekly 7:15 AM meetings. I would have felt the same joy that I
experienced when my son Vonel Lamour was among the names of the Executive board
members of his class.
I have been not only a âsoccerâ mom, but a basketball, gymnastics, ballet,
voice lessons, piano, violin, choir practice mom while obtaining two graduate
degrees, the most recent one being a Masterâs in Theological Studies at the
Weston Jesuit School of Theology (WJST). In Westonâs class of 2005, I am one of
the rare Black Catholics and Third World lay woman to obtain a theological
degree, especially from a Jesuit School of Theology. Only 2% to 3% of Catholic
theology students in the United States are Black. 80-90% of ministerial and
theology students are mostly middle and upper middle class white women.
The Boston community that I have been part of since I was a teenager was
unavailable during the hardships I went through while parenting, working, and
studying theology. They were not present either to notice that coincidentally
my graduation hood was the color of past and current Haitian flags. My years
of theological studies are vivid examples of lack of mentoring in the Black
community. With all the pastors, priests, and ministers in the Haitian
communities, nobody was available to ask any question or help while studying theology.
The only accessible person was a âvirtualâ mentor, an âonlineâ Haitian
college professor whom I never talked with or met.
I firmly believe that the lack of interest in continuous learning needs to
be addressed in the Black communities. Last year Bill Cosbyâs Educational
concerns rose an uproar in the African American community. Tavis Smiley, a
popular talk show host addresses educational issues in the African American
milieus. As far as I know there isnât a voice at the national or local level
stressing the importance of learning and being informed in the Haitian or in newly
arrived sub Saharan African communities.
Observing the trust, dependency, and high deference that church goers have
for their religious leaders and most importantly the role that the Bla
ck/immigrant churches play in the believersâ lives, I find it deplorable that a number
of today's ethnic Christian ecclesial milieus are not playing an engaging and
supportive role in the community.
Despite the Haitianâs communityâs [lack of] understanding and a hefty
student loan debt, I enjoyed the learning I acquired at the WJST, Harvard Divinity
School, the Episcopal Divinity School, and St. Johnâs seminary laity program.
Studying theology was worth every sleepless night and the social life depriv
ation of the past four years.
Kudos to the Haitian Graduating classes of 2005. We have all worked hard!
Nekita Lamour, an experienced educator in the field of ESL/Bilingual and
Multicultural Education received a Masterâs degree in Theological Studies from the
Weston Jesuit School of Theology this past May.