What Success Looks Like
Resilience: Haiti Empowerment Project quickly changes focus to respond to earthquake
Excellence, Change and Innovation
October 1, 2010
When a 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti last January, Terri Teal Bucci's first thought was to hop on a plane.
Bucci, an education professor at Ohio State's Mansfield campus, has long-standing relationships on the island nation, built during five years of work on teaching projects.
"Our first inclination was to go down and do what we could," she says.
Instead, she asked her Haitian colleagues how she could help meet their needs.
In March, Bucci returned to the island with Ohio volunteers. At the request of tent community leaders, they helped set up three schools in Croix-des-Bouquets, a rural area a few miles away from Port-au-Prince where former city dwellers settled after the earthquake destroyed their homes.
“Ohio State University students and faculty members have been a presence in Haiti for the past five years.”
—Professor Terri Teal Bucci
"It's very important to us that we are working with those community members, and those community members are the ones who are driving the direction of their schools, of their teacher education," she says.
Since 2005, Bucci's Haiti Empowerment Project has grown from a one-school effort to a project encompassing several lab schools and two universities, the University of Caraibe and University Notre Dame Haiti. The project has received funding from the Mansfield campus, the Office of Outreach and Engagement, and the Kovler Foundation; Ohio State faculty and students have volunteered their time to train teachers.
"The very first thing you become aware of is how little these kids have. They have nothing," says Steven Joyce, a Mansfield professor who visited Haiti with Bucci in May.
With donated equipment, Joyce organized a soccer league for the tent school kids.
"Soccer was a way of restoring a little bit of that youth that has been lost," he says. "It gave them a chance, for an hour and a half, to not think of other things, but to play and have fun the way kids should have fun--which, developmentally speaking, is as important as anything else."
The project also benefits Ohio teachers like Pam Sweeney, who teaches at Weinland Park Elementary in the Columbus City Schools district and who has spent time in Haiti with Bucci.
Sweeney says the trips have enhanced the way she teaches her elementary school students. She can now tell them, firsthand, "what's happening in Haiti, what's happening in other cultures."
Bucci goes back in Haiti in October, her third trip this year. And she is planning for the future.
"Ohio State University students and faculty members have been a presence in Haiti for the past five years," Bucci says. "I feel proud to be a faculty member from Ohio State, to see how they support this important work of outreach, not only in the United States but across the world."