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

17878: Nlbo: "Brain Drain" Concept and the Diaspora (fwd)

From: Nlbo@aol.com

“And of course when it comes to the private sector, Haiti should open her
arms to all her expatriates.  There are more than a million Haitian-Americans
outside of Haiti.  The great majority have experienced living and working in
functional societies and the majority are educated (the old brain drain).”

I would like to use these phrases to  reflect on how the “brain” that is
“drained” from Haiti is  used in the diasporic community, especially in Boston.
What I have noticed as a long time resident of Boston, the Haitian thinker and
visionary is not active in community institutions that have major influence in
society. If one puts  media, church, and schools (educational institutions)
in  context of the Boston Haitian community, one will find that the Haitian
“brain” or their children are not in the Haitian churches, in the Haitian media
or in schools attended or taught by most Haitians. I am aware of one public
school system (Cambridge, Mass)  and some (K-12) “exams” schools around the
country where the teachers’ children are in the public schools.  Otherwise many
Haitian professionals’ children don’t attend schools with large Haitian

Besides the K-12 teachers  that are required to hold a minimum of 4 year
accredited college degree and since l993 Massachusetts school reform, mandatory
professional development courses, others in the other influential (Haitian)
institutions don’t have to (church and media).  I  know of less than a handful of
Haitians in the Boston area teaching at the university level. My focus is on
the K-12 teachers.

 What have we produced as an K-12 educators?  What is a concrete thing I can
hand on to a Haitian who was born in Boston two or three decades ago or
thereafter as example of what ‘we’ as teachers have done in the past 30 years ? As
an educator, I am thinking of something on paper, at least a book. A number of
us were paid by our school systems to develop curriculum materials in Haitian
Creole. I know of one teacher who was given a year off with paid salary to
produce a literature/history book in Creole geared to middle grades. One had a
mini grant to compile her children’s writings/poetries into a book.

In terms of creativity, I mean those producing for non lucrative purposes
including college credits.  I am aware of a few Boston area teachers who
demonstrated some productive, tangible creativity.  A  teacher made a Creole book of a
play he produced. One wrote two small paper backs in Creole geared to K-3
levels. One published two children books in Creole of African American heroes.  A
high school teacher produces his own materials and travels to Haiti every
summer to volunteer as teacher trainer.  A  female educator and myself have
published in English in mainstream journals and papers.  An elementary teacher
writes a monthly educational column in the Boston Haitian Reporter.  A high school
teacher runs a Creole discussion line and publishes a Creole “on line”
magazine. The teacher who had contributed the most is Emmanuel Vedrine who went to
the extreme of quitting teaching for 10 years and self published volumes of
grammar, dictionaries, poetries,   fiction works, and a recent voluminous
bibliography of Creole writers. I doubt that the Haitian community in Boston is
aware of his sacrifice. I don’t know if they remain anonymous or inactive
observers, but  the majority of Haitian teachers don’t contribute to the listserve
discussions. I don’t see most Haitian teachers in local community meetings,
churches, or  conferences either.

Is that enough? After 30 years of educating Haitian children, what will a
graduate or under graduate student find as history of Haitian schooling  in
Boston written by a Haitian? What will they know about the now defunct
Transitional Bilingual Education(TBE) program? What books or articles will an 18 year old
find in a library if he/she is writing about any topic about Haitians living
in Boston from a Haitian perspective?  The Euro-American writer does not write
with the same lens, emotions, world view  and style as a Haitian.    Globally
speaking, what is the educational sector in the Boston Haitian milieu
producing, giving, or sharing with the Haitian community or the future generations?

In my life time, I have known of two major producers of school books, les
Frères de l’Instruction Chrétienne  which no longer produce books and Odette Roy
Fombrun.  George Anglade published a geography book in French and Trouillot a
history book in Creole. In the l980’s l’Institut Pédagogique National(IPN)
the Haitian elementary branch of education produced a series of didactic paper
books for elementary school children. Bon Nouvel, Caritas had produced Creole
books for school usage. In Miami,  Educavisons  produces books in Creole. A
Haitian teacher had published a creole phonics books. Teachers in the Miami area
had produced several Creole materials from grants received. I have a more
extensive unpublished  paper on the history of didactic materials produced in
Creole.  My focus today is what had been produced in Boston, the world’s academic
capital  in the last three decades? Haitian newspapers had to discontinue
their distribution in Boston because of lack of readership.  In Haiti, the
political infrastructure is blamed for lack of new books in the schools. What is the
difference in terms of production here in Boston where all the technical means
are available and what is happening in producing books in Haiti for children?

Haiti should not be the only place to open her arms to all her expatriates.
Diasporic  providers or institutions should also be  opened to the generation
of Haitian visionaries living in their area. In other words, I am seeing the
same patterns that put Haiti where it is now in some diasporic communities. In
terms of Boston, her  major institutional providers (media, church, schools)
as well as the community agencies need to reflect on their creativity,
intergenerational communication,  interdisciplinary participation, and their long term
goals or vision settings for the Haitian community as a whole.