Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Haitian Thanksgiving Tall Tale

This is actually from 2009:

Since living and working with Haitian immigrants in Puerto Plata, I have heard many crazy stories, accusations, and understandings of things. I think I am fairly open minded when being told about various magical accounts such as people that are able to turn into animals in Haiti. I am careful not to completely and quickly disregard something several people say they have seen with their own eyes. Sometimes I add in my own knowledge, such as when I was told that mice sprout wings and fly when they grow old. I first replied by saying that I had never heard of, or seen that. Then, while flipping through a science book with one of the boys, he pointed to a picture of a bat, saying that this was a mouse that had grown old and sprouted wings. I was tickled, now understanding how this claim came about, and told him that I didn't believe that to be true. I had seen baby bats and they were born with wings. I was sure that bats and mice were different species. (Species happened to be one of their science vocabulary words at the time).

For the past year and a half or so, Haitians have been telling me that they hear the United States will soon run Haiti. I always reply that that is something I often hear from Haitians but have not heard from Americans either by word of mouth or in the news. Therefore, I didn't believe it to be true. Lately, several people have reported that Haiti no longer has a president but that Bill Clinton is running the country. I know that Hillary Clinton, if not Bill as well, visited Haiti, and perhaps Bill's foundation is leading or plans to lead some development efforts there, but I am pretty sure (correct me if I'm wrong) that Bill Clinton will not be running the country. 

This, then, often leads to them asking me my thoughts on the matter, as well as them sharing their own thoughts. Would I be in favor of the U.S. running Haiti? When asked this, I reply that Haitians declared, fought for, and gained their independence for a reason. I think they should believe that they have the potential to lead their country and lead it well. Foreign aid, in reference to much more than money, is great and necessary because foreign countries have access to more resources and have successful practices that should be learned from, but there is a difference between aid and domination. Haitians, or any other country in a similar situation, should work together with those who want to aid, and be careful of those who want to dominate. Their independence, as well as their unique and beautiful culture, should not be compromised.

Sometimes, after hearing a piece of gossip or news that seems stretched, I imagine a huge game of telephone. The other day, one of our grassroots schools teachers wanted to confirm the truthfulness of some things he had heard about American history. One thing he said delighted me and I feel the need to share it with you all as Thanksgiving is approaching.

We talked about Christopher Columbus, who Haitians and Dominicans know, discovered their island, HispaƱola. At the time, the island was already inhabited by Taino Indians. We talked about the use of the name Indian. He wasn't aware of the origin of the name or the term "Native Americans". We then talked about the early settlement of the U.S. He said that he had heard that the U.S. is a country that is very blessed. He heard that one time there was no food and the people were praying and praying. Then, before long, turkeys fell from the sky, providing food! After a good laugh, I took the opportunity to share the true Thanksgiving story with him.

What are you thankful for? I'm thankful for my friends and family here that never cease to make me look at life in a different way. HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!

No comments:

Post a Comment