Student Experiences

2013 Students' Perspectives

Liya Ye, Undergraduate Student at OSU-Columbus

"I am glad that I made the decision to participate in the Haiti Empowerment Project. It is a mind-blowing experience, and it changed my idea about business and about Haiti. I started to see business in a new way and see Haiti not only as a developing country which went through a tragic earthquake, but also as a place which is full of challenges and opportunities.

When we were resting at the airport before arriving in Haiti, one group member asked me about my impression of Haiti. I said Haiti was hot and poor. After I came back, I knew I was right about the “hot” part but not about the “poor” part. In Haiti, our business group members and I did marketing research, interviewed with local business owners and assisted a Haitian sewing factory in starting its business. I was proud that I could use what I knew to work with these Haitians. On the last day, when our business group explained our ideas to the women leaders of the sewing factory, they were very excited to try them. They asked questions, took notes, and discussed the ideas with us. The Haitians were not poor, even though they did not have enough physical material. They were trying and fighting to improve their lives. Haiti is full of opportunities, and I do hope I can go back to Haiti to continue our projects."

Lindsay Martin, Undergraduate Student at OSU-Mansfield

"Although this was my second trip to Haiti with the Haiti Empowerment Project, it was a brand new experience all over again. I gained so much more confidence both professionally and personally than I ever thought I could, and it caused me to start thinking about educational opportunities that I never would have considered otherwise. Although I traveled with the HEP group as a Communications student during both of the trips, I discovered another passion of mine that I had never explored before. Because of my involvement with the Haiti Empowerment Project, I will be staying an extra year as an undergraduate student in order to complete an Education Minor and return to Haiti next year to put my classroom knowledge into practice. The list of benefits resulting from my involvement with the Haiti Empowerment Project is seemingly endless! My chance encounter with Dr. Bucci last year has turned out to be the best thing that has happened to my college education. It has opened so many opportunities for me, and I am extremely excited to see where those opportunities take me in the future. It is not the Empower Haiti Project. It is the Haiti EMPOWERMENT Project because those who are involved leave the experience feeling just as empowered if not more empowered than the Haitians that we work with. It is an incredible experience both personally and professionally, and I am very grateful that I have been able to be a part of it."

Tiffany Tilley, Undergraduate Student at OSU-Mansfield

"Being a part of the Haiti Empowerment Project is one of the best decisions that I have made as a student at OSU. Before going to Haiti, I had some doubts about whether I had chosen the right major. After being in Haiti and working with the teachers, principals, students and other community members, however, all of my doubts were gone. I discovered that teaching really is what I want to do. Not only did going to Haiti with the Haiti Empowerment Project erase my doubts about my major, but having the professional development seminars in Haiti also showed me how important it is to work with other people, to share your ideas, and to be accepting of one another's ideas on both a professional level and personal level. I went to Haiti with preconceived notions of what I thought Haiti was going to be like, and I found out that some of them were not very accurate. I have learned to not be so quick to judge anything, or anyone. Being a part of the Haiti Empowerment Project was a life changing experience and it taught me so many lessons that I will utilize in both my professional and personal life."

Courtney Crum, Undergraduate Student at OSU-Columbus

"Before traveling to Haiti with the Haiti Empowerment Project, I had never been outside the United States. It was a brand new experience for me. I was nervous to leave the country for the first time-especially on a trip where I knew I would be pushed to do the best work that I could.

I worked collaboratively with both the other OSU education students and also the Haitian teachers and school administrators. I was given opportunities to test both my knowledge and potential, and through those opportunities, I realized that I am capable of doing more than I ever thought I could. I learned that I could handle balancing multiple tasks while drawing on my own knowledge and my team's knowledge to plan sessions for the professional development seminars. I also learned how to interact with people from another culture.

The relationships that I have built with Dr. Bucci, the students and staff of OSU, and the Haitian people have led me to rethink my future career and schooling. After I graduate with my bachelors degree in Human Development and Family Sciences, I now plan to go into Global Education and Social Studies Education and get my Masters Degree. After that I plan to start teaching at the college level while possibly working on my PhD in Global Education. I would like to continue working with the Haiti Empowerment Project while I complete my education.

I am lucky and happy to have had the opportunity to work with the people, students, and staff of the Haiti Empowerment Project, and I hope to have the opportunity to work with them again in the future."

Helen Chen, Undergraduate Student at OSU-Columbus

"Incredible scenery. Amazing communities. Caring people. All of these were observations I made during my trip to Haiti with the Haiti Empowerment Project. It is always exciting to visit a country in which you know very little about, and this experience was no different. While in Haiti, I was able to interact with the educators and local students and teach them First-Aid techniques that can be used during emergency situations. I was also able to converse with various physicians in clinics and hospitals and share with them a picture booklet that I created and had translated into Haitian Creole to convey the same information in visual form. During each encounter, I was so appreciative of the welcoming spirit of the locals in the community. While singing and playing with the children, I saw just how much joy that we brought to each other. When I left Haiti, I knew that not only was I leaving with a wealth of powerful memories, but I also left with a whole community of Haitian friends."

Amanda Broseus, Undergraduate Student at OSU-Columbus

"My experiences in Haiti really changed me and helped me grow as a person. I was exposed to a new culture-one I never would've been able to imagine without seeing it for myself. Some of the best things I've taken from the trip are the relationships developed with the people I traveled with, as well as the self-confidence I developed. Being the only woman working in a group of engineers was intimidating at first, but that's actually how I found my self-confidence. I became comfortable working with the guys and I found my voice. I found the courage to share my opinions and ideas. Being forced to think on the fly and in difficult situations was another intimidating experience, but it is one that I value because it will make me a better professional in my career field. All in all, I can't wait to go back, and I look forward to experiencing that same kind of empowerment for myself again and helping to create it for others through my work."

2012 Students' Perspectives

Lindsay Martin, Undergraduate Student at OSU-Mansfield

"Working with the Haiti Empowerment Project has completely altered my view of the idea of a 'service trip'. As I prepared to accompany the 2012 group on the Haiti trip, I had the idea that I was going to Haiti to help the people by providing them with resources and education that they are not fortunate enough to have. I could not have had a more wrong perception of the Haiti Empowerment Project. After the trip, I felt that I had been more empowered than any other person involved. The Haitian people that I came into contact with during that week had a lasting impression on me that will not fade away. Their constant cheerfulness, eagerness to learn and try new things, and their sincere gratefulness definitely made me re-think and re-prioritize every aspect of my life. I have no doubt in my mind that every person who attended the trip had similar feelings. I was proud to have a part in the work that we did in Haiti, but I was also ecstatic about the change it made in me."

Erin Hughes, Graduate Student at OSU-Mansfield

"From the time I first heard about the Haiti Empowerment Project from Dr. Terri Bucci, one of my professors at Ohio State Mansfield, I wanted to be involved. I had never traveled outside the United States other than to Canada, so I eagerly volunteered for one of Dr. Bucci's work trips.

My main assignment was to work with Dr. Doug Kranch, a professor of computer information systems at North Central State College, whom Dr. Bucci invited to contribute to the Haiti Empowerment Project. It was our goal to see how teachers were using the XO computers, provided by One Laptop Per Child. Dr. Bucci and Dr. Kranch would like to develop standards-based math learning modules for these computers. Our job was to gather the preliminary information needed to make effective use of the computers possible.

I would definitely like to return to Haiti again. From my point of view, even though the people have suffered so much due to the earthquake, they still manage to function as a community, to get along, and to accomplish goals. I believe the people of Haiti are not letting their troubles stop them from moving forward. Witnessing their courage has empowered me to never give up on my future endeavors."

Allyson Leedy, Graduate Student at OSU-Mansfield

"Having worked with the Haiti Empowerment Project for a second year, I have been continually empowered by the work of Dr. Bucci. During both last year's trip as well as this year's, Dr. Bucci entrusted me with tasks which I believed to be far beyond what I was capable of completing successfully. She not only trusted and believed in my abilities, but she also equipped me with opportunities to test my strength and realize my own potential in ways I never had before. Likewise, her efforts to create similar relationships with the people of Haiti (as well as the students and staff from OSU) have encouraged me to seriously consider the type of teacher (and person) I hope to be in the future. Dr. Bucci's work with the Haiti Empowerment Project has quickly grown to become the "Allyson Empowerment Project" as well. I have been happy to have the opportunity to watch as the ripple effect of this empowerment spreads to everyone who is lucky enough to experience it."

Trace Searles, Alumnus at OSU-Columbus

"I believe that there was a full circle of empowerment involved within the solar project. By working WITH the University Caraibe students, and not AT them, we were able to share our knowledge, not just of solar energy and electricity, but of other, more basic things that we may take for granted such as power tools, light switches, and power outlets. We were able to share this knowledge in a more personal, hands-on method by having them work with us throughout every aspect of the project. Everyone has different things to teach, and everyone has the ability to empower others. I truly believe that every single one of us had empowered or been empowered on multiple occasions, even when we were not working on the solar project."