In January, 13 St. Thomas business undergraduates traveled to Haiti with Healing Haiti, a nonprofit organization leading mission trips to the Caribbean nation since 2006. What began as a fulfillment of a service learning requirement for students became a life-changing experience. They were required to step out of their comfort zones and experience a culture and a way of life starkly different from their own in a community where residents live on less than $2 per day, 70 percent have no access to clean water and the unemployment rate is more than 40 percent.
The students delivered clean water to residents of Cite Soleil, the poorest city in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. They visited hospitals and orphanages to care for infants and toddlers, traveled to a remote area of Titanyen to visit with elders, treated a group of orphans to enjoy a day at the beach and visited Haitian-run businesses to better understand the challenges the business owners face.
This service-learning trip, part of UST’s Business 200 program, helps business students learn about the partnerships necessary between businesses and communities to advance the long-term viability and health of both. It also reflects the Catholic social justice component of the university’s mission.
Student Brittany Kolb summed up the week best when she said, “Haiti is a place that breaks your heart in every way, yet leaves you with more joy than you ever thought possible.”
We hope you enjoy these photos as a small window into our experience.
Kristine Sharockman is director of St. Thomas' Master of Science Degree in Accountancy program.
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