[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: 17043: Corbett replies to Pierrot

> From: Sajousp@aol.com
> Bob,
> It seems to me that we are all in agreement as stated above. I didn't and I
> don't think Hudicourt did after I reviewed her post that Haiti has a choice.She
> simply stated that mission groups should be classified as tourists.Do you
> object to that?
> Pierrot


When I was running the trips I ran I could never come upon a decent
descriptor.  I endered up calling them work/experience trips.
I really think "tourism" wouldn't work.  However, anthropologist Jerry
Murray used to have a category he called "devotional tourism" in relation
to some group trips to Haiti.  I think he's even published on the topic.

I've done  a huge amount of "tourism" in my life, and it didn't involve
any serious attempt at work in or for the place I was touring.  I've had
some trips to Haiti which were PURE tourism trips for me and I loved

But in the 30 trips which I sponsored to Haiti from 1983-1995 there was
always an element of work, and there was a PLANNED element of tourism, or
experiecing Haiti.

Individuals did it there own way.  Some came, did what I would think was
serious work.  However, I will grant Hudicourt's point that were one to
HIRE Haitians to do the same work that:  a.  one could find qualified
Haitians to do the work.  b.  Most of it would be cheaper.

Others came and did little work but played more.
Others came and did little playing but worked more.

So I could never say that it was just to describe what they did as tourism

Other groups seem to me to have similar results as I did.  That is, that
they often did work that they believed needed to be done, but often they
allowed some time for play as well.

I think there are two very different issues here, which the
oversimplification don't deal with:

1.  The claim, which is what I was denying, that Haiti would be better off
economically and material had the cost of the trip been donated.  I think
that is only hypothetically true if one assumes the cost of the trip ends
the economic relationship with that person as donor.  That's what my main
argument was. The trips had a DOUBLE function in fact:  a.  the trip
itself.  b.  the follow up that many (though not all) were moved to, that
of then being moved BY THE TRIP EXPERIENCE to help raise money for Haiti.

2.  Second is the notion that Haitians could be hired to do virtually all
the work the visitors did.  I tend to think that is true, though I doubt
some religious groups would agree since they would take evangelization as
work.  That was never part of my trips.  But I think there would be
serious disagreement among those folks.

However, agreeing that Haitians could be hired (and for less money that
the trips cost) to do much of the labor actually done, does not mean that
the trips of the visitors are therefore tourism.  That's a totally
separate issue.  You seem to me to be confusioning issues.

Further, I don't think the case can even be made that ALL labor is the
same.  I am a case in point.  I was the point person between foreign
donors and Haitian community organizations.  My job was to conduct the
buisiness of PTP (People to People, Inc.) in such a way that:

1.  Haitian groups we worked with got funds and did projects as
	agreed upon.
2.  The whole procedure worked in such a way that the foreign donors were
	satisfied with # 1 in such a way that they continued donating

I'm not at all convinced that one could easily hire a local person to do
that job.  I always felt I was very inadequate in doing # 1 simply because
I wasn't Haitian, and that any Haitian would not have been able to do # 2
very successfully with the people who I had identified as donors.
Cultural differences and so on.  So I did a balancing act, a
teeter-totter, never fully satisfactory, but that I was doing this, on my
view, better than most I ran into.

I think there may well be other jobs that were the same, and easy
substitutes might not be found.

I guess what it comes down to is really a matter of valuing.  I tend to
think that there are virtually no ideal systems of anything in the world,
and that it is easy to find fault with the systems of the visiting mission
and humanitarian groups.  But, I am do not see it so clearly as you and
Hudicourt do, that the outcomes are nearly universal and as easy to
denigrate as you do.  I see good things happen with and via such groups
and I see things that aren't so good.  I see that different groups are
very different in how I would describe them and value them.

What I was reacting against, as is the case in about 90% of the posts I
write to this list, is what I saw as excessive generalization in a very
complex matter.  I like to deal with things in their complexity and their
individuality.  I like to see language that draws emotive responses be
used with care and attention to detail and concrete experience.

The positions to which I responded seem to me to make claims that weren't
defensible, as I've tried to argue above and in earlier posts on this
topic, or where over-generalize or simply misnamed.

So far you haven't convinced me that I am wrong about those views.  I
would like to hear more response to the specific objections I make.

I do appreciate the dialogue.  Thanks,

Bob Corbett