I’d like to say that I had some sort of epiphany as we drove away in the van from Cange, but honestly, I was too tired to think straight. As the plane was taking off, on the other hand, I realized that my future with Haiti is completely unclear. I have no idea when I may come back, or what I could do. Participating in the Holy Trinity music camp completely changed my life and made me appreciate everything I have at home so much more. When we landed in New York, I felt incredibly and disgustingly lucky at the same time. I got to leave the poverty of Haiti and return to my privileged life in the US. I’m happy to be home and with my family, but the problems that exist outside the US will never leave my mind. Going to Haiti has completely changed my view of the world, and I can honestly say that I would be a different person without Maine Music Outreach (however cheesy that may sound). Thank you, to everyone who contributed to allow us to experience Haiti.
It has been a very eventful last couple of days. Yesterday Jackie Williams, a long time artist/volunteer, gave us a tour of Paul Farmer’s house. Almost right across from the compound, we traveled on a little dirt path to his secluded house. After reading Mountains Beyond Mountains, it was amazing to see his house and understand all the has done for Haiti. Farmer’s house was surrounded by bamboo trees planted 25 years ago, some reaching over 60 feet tall. On our way back we went through the local Cange market, where we bought mangos and kaneps. One of the many things I love about Haiti is their abundance of fresh, exotic fruit. The overall market experience was very interesting, as our interactions with the Congalse was very different than our conversations inside the compound.
Yesterday, two little trumpet girls saw that I had cards in my bag. Pointing to them, we sat down and they proceeded to teach me a Haitian card game. It was amazing, with out any common language we could play cards together. Today, the two girls wanted to play cards with me and they brought their friends. The girls are adorable and we played cards for about an hour, in which I became decent at the game, Caou.
Today, I woke up at 5 in the morning and met up with Camden, Isaac, and two American engineers to hike a mountain. Two days ago we had climbed a hill that is located on the compound, but today’s hike was very different. In darkness, we walked a ways through Cange and then onto a footpath through the mountains. The engineers are very cool and they are doing absolutely amazing things for Haiti. They’ve helped established clean water systems and specialized faucets that conserve water. Once we reached the top, myself tripping every other minute, the early wake up was well worth it. There was mountains ridge upon mountain ridge, with clouds blanketing in the distance. It was absolutely beautiful, and any pictures that were taken can not come to capturing the endlessness of the early morning sunrise.
On another note, the morning sectionals are going awesome and I absolutely love the students I’m working with. We’ve already made so much progress and I’ve really connected with the students. I’m also playing with the orchestra, which is a challenge, but it is going well.
Alex: First Impressions
“Good to be Back”
Even though I have only been in Haiti for a little over a day, I’m already starting to feel the familiarity of the lifestyle again. Tomorrow will be my first day of actually playing and singing with the students. The two experiences so far that have stuck out to me are the ride to Cange, and the church service we attended this morning. During my first year, I remember that I slept the entire ride down, but this year we rode down in a “tap tap” instead of a bus, and so I guess you could say I was “forced” to experience my surroundings. During the church service this morning I was able to even more keenly remember my reason for coming back while singing with the Haitians. I was also happy to see that my singing in Creole at least has improved. I am very excited to see what waits for me tomorrow!
Richard Kinney: First impression
Hello I’m Richard Kinney and i am a percussionist and piano player. I attend Medomak Valley High School and this is my first year in Haiti. My first impression of Haiti was when i saw an airplane besides the tarmac, wings and back half of the plane missing. It was unsettling to say the least but i understood. We then touched down and got off the plane. The heat was the next thing to hit me. The humidity and the heat was strong but i was prepared and was fine by the time we got to luggage pick up. Next was leaving the airport. I have never seen so much poverty before first hand in my life. People started pushing and shoving and trying to take our things so we could pay them a tip. We ignored this and got into a tap tap which is an open back truck with wooden padded seats and a metal roof enclosing us in a death trap. We then left the airport zipping along as fast as possible because they have no traffic laws in Haiti. Cars were zipping around, flying past us, and laying on their horns. Good times. Next we stopped at a gas station and waited for an orchestral member of Cange. During the time there i saw two armed guards at the gas station, one with a standard issue pistol, the other with a rifle with a shotgun under barrel attachment. That was intimidating and scary. It was then mostly smooth sailing to Cange other then the occasional speed bump, and not to mention the dump trucks speeding past us about 3 feet away.
Haiti in itself is a beautiful country and an incredible geographical phenomenon. The people are incredibly nice and rich in their own ways. But the country is a poor place and can sometimes be very scary.
Kate Laemmle: (Second) First Impression
Ever since I left Haiti last year I’ve wanted to go back. As we drove through the streets of Port-a-Prince, I was so excited to go back to camp. We drove through Haiti in an open-backed truck, one side completely exposed. Last year we drove up in a school bus with the campers and I ultimately dozed off. Riding in the rickety truck made dozing off impossible, and it was an absolutely wonderful experiencing Haiti zooming backwards. We got stuck in two short rainstorms and I got to see all of mountainous Haiti in the setting sun.
When we arrived at the camp it was a little weird being on the other side of introductions, as I was in the first week last year. However, I almost immediately transitioned, and I am so happy happy to be back. The volunteers are amazing this year and already we’ve been super busy. Already we got to see group 1’s concert, which was an absolutely incredible, but long, 4 hours, including a surprise visit from a Bahama choir group.
Today (Monday) we went into our sectionals. I had an amazing time teaching a young melophonist (marching frenchorn) and a french hornist. After playing through our music, we played through some duets I brought. I am so glad to be back and can’t wait for the rest of the week!!!!!!!!!
Emily: First Impressions
After a long saturday we arrived in Cange safely. When we first got out of the airport it was very chaotic. There were people everywhere asking if we needed help with any of our luggage and if we were a certain group. Unexpectedly, our ride to the camp was a truck with an open back. It was a lot of fun to ride with that feeling of the rain coming down and seeing the amazing view. It was incredible to see the way people live and how they get to different places.
When we arrived we met with the rest of the group and got settled into our homes for the week (except Kate and I had to move four times already, but as of now we are officially settled in). On sunday we went to church and got to see the first week group preform the songs they have been working on for the past week. Today we started our normal activities, working with people and playing in bands. Now I’m excited to see what the rest of the week is like!
To say I’m exhausted seems like an understatement as I write this. It’s been such a fun week, but after seven days of almost nonstop work and play, I’m definitely starting to crash. I’ve had a little bit of a head cold and a severe need to sleep for two or three consecutive days. But do not let my tired words fool you! This week had been everything I wanted it to be and more, and the experiences I’ve had are priceless, by far worth the fatigue and runny nose.
Though I’ve been once before, the aesthetic beauty of Haiti will never fail to blow me away. I have a collection of some of the most stunning green foliage from our into-the-mountains hike a couple days ago, and just from around camp. We often hear students from Port-au-Prince say that this camp is like an oasis for them, and it feels like an oasis for myself as well when I look around and see the abundance of trees, flowers, and Haitian-style buildings. Just this morning, we made a trip down the 534 (we counted) stairs to the small clean-water runoff just deep enough to cool off in: not only was that another opportunity to admire Haiti’s bountiful shades of rich green and blue, but also an excellent opportunity to cool off!
But what really has made the most difference this week is the deep personal connections and musical growth that has sprouted up all around me in just one week. Sharing such an intense experience has a way of making bonds way quicker than would usually happen in life, and it makes me so happy to realize the friendships I’ve made with Lincoln Academy student’s I’d really never have met otherwise, and the older musicians I know I could always call or message if I needed their musical advice, or a couch to crash on someday. Being at this camp in Haiti is such a unique experience, we are all, in a weird, musical way, a little bit like family now. Sounds weird, but is actually pretty cool. Not just counselors, either: not only will I remember the students I’ve worked with and the incredible growth we shared, but several of us exchanged email addresses and Facebook information, and I know they will always be around to practice French/English with.
I wondered for a while before I returned if I was crazy for deciding to take the time and money to return back to the camp for a second year, having already had the experience: I am now positive it was one of the best decisions I could’ve made this year. Though my time with Maine Music Outreach ends with my graduation for high school, I dream to come back as a official volunteer some day soon, maybe after a couple years of college with some real college music classes under my belt. Until then, goodbye to Haiti! It’s a sad goodbye, though I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss my cats. Best wishes to the second week group! May they find even more music and connection than us Have a blast guys, see everyone back in the states!
Due to a lack of power, I’ve decided to past onto this post what each of kids have written.
Camden Gulden: First Impressions
Upon arrival, my thoughts and ideas about what haiti would be like were immediately flipped upside-down and turned inside out. I was speechless when I saw the masses of Port au Prince, I had never seen anything so busy and so densely packed. There were cars driving where cars were never intended to drive and people sitting on those cars in places people were never intended to sit. It was such a culture shock. I am still having trouble wrapping my mind around the fact that this is what people have lived in their entire life. I was in disbelief that anyone could manage their life in such a chaotic environment. Coming from the quiet state of Maine made the world seem even more alien. As shocked and horrified as I was, I became instantly intrigued and amazed by Haiti. I fell in love with the colors and scents; the reckless driving of the locals and of our own tap-tap driver; the scenery and the majestic mountains. Everything was so new and interesting, all I wanted to do was stop and explore. I wanted to absorb the whole culture. I had a true feeling of discovery and curiosity.
Elise: Je suis très fatigué
It’s the last full day, and this week has both seemed like an eternity and like it has flown by. I can barely remember the flight to Haiti, but I can’t comprehend how the week is already over. I feel like everyone is just getting settled, and we already have to leave. I have had a fantastic, unforgettable experience, and I don’t even know how to thank everyone who contributed to allow us all to be here. Liz and Isaac have been fantastic chaperones here, and it’s exciting to see the other group getting settled. I feel differently than last year (not sick and all), but also because I don’t know if I will ever come back to this camp, let alone Haiti. Being here is a life changing experience, and meeting all the wonderful volunteers has only added to it. I hope everyone continues to have a fabulous experience, and I will be thinking about the other group when I’m home in Maine.
Liam: The Final Night
Today group 1 woke up at 5:45 to walk down 576 stairs to a small watering hole on our last full day in Haiti. The water was both refreshing and beautiful, serving as a perfect memory to end the week on. As of right now, leaving is the only sour memory I’ve made in Haiti. My trip has felt like a year long experience that’s finally coming to a close and while I’ve more than enjoyed every moment it’s hard to leave.
Let it be known that this week we have something of an abundance of saxophones, teachers and students. Because of the “sax fiasco,” if you will, we’ve had a lot of flexibility to split up lessons and sectionals to match strengths and needs. I’m definitely self conscious about teaching bigger groups of students, so during sectionals, rather than conducting the whole saxophone section, I worked one-on-one with a beginner player, Pauline. She started playing sax for the first time one month ago, on the camp’s tenor sax, which was exciting for me, since tenor is my favorite saxophone. Pauline doesn’t speak any English at all, and I speak barely enough French and Creole to conduct a lesson, but, despite those barriers, we’ve had a blast. She’s been working really hard on getting the knack of the lower notes, which are particularly challenging on the tenor. She’s made so much progress just in this week, and it’s so rewarding to know that I’ve been able to help her get the extra push she needed to hit those notes. Our language barrier really is just a fun thing to laugh about during lessons, and we always find a way to get our messages across. She’s just a really fun woman, and is starting a new instrument at 21, which is really hip. She reminds me that it’s never too late to start something new. I can’t wait to hear her perform in the concert, she has so much to be proud of.
Last year, I worked with two eight year old trombonists in the Sister Anne-Marie band (the beginner band). This year, I started with a man named D-Mike, who is clearly much older than myself. The next day, two other trombonists, Lynda and Nefalie, joined us. By today (Friday), all three trombonists have grown so much. D-Mike was clearly a slightly experienced trombonist. Once I played through a piece with him, he could play it almost perfectly. The other two trombonists had a little more difficultly with the pieces, but today, we played through all four pieces together. They did so well, so I got out the AOS 93 music from last year and we played through “What a Wonderful World” and “Nottingham Castle.”
When I first saw the Sister Anne-Marie band, I was surprised and disappointed when I didn’t see the two trombonists from last year, but I had the same feeling of pride and joy when I saw how much the trombonists this year improved. Yesterday, D-Mike was teaching Nefalie how to play a piece. He gained the confidence to play the pieces and teach others. Seeing three trombonists improve is a great feeling and experience, and it is much different than my experiences with the more advanced band. I have less to teach the advanced band because all the trombonists are experienced, but some of the trombonists sitting next to me try to communicate more. I share music with Jeffson and Shadrac, and they both talk to me while I listen and try to comprehend the French. One trombonist, Richardson, speaks enough English to help translate sometimes, but usually I feel lost. Both bands have given me great experiences with teaching and learning. I’ll be sad to leave because I feel like I just began friendships with so many people, but I hope I can stay connected to the amazing people I’ve met.
For the first day of sectionals I was playing with Dox (Ducks), Caleb (Kahleb), Stephen, and Govani. So, during the actual full band rehearsal I ended up playing the first parts with Dox and Caleb. We started off with a director that pretty much just spoke english, so obviously the neither Dox nor Caleb understood what measure to turn to when the director would call out measures. After noticing this I started pointing out the measures to them and making sure they understood what the director was saying. After that the second director started directing and he was from Haiti and primarily spoke Creole. Dox and Caleb knew of course that I didn’t speak Creole so they would point out everything to me and attempt to explain what the director was trying to say. This eventually turned almost into a small game of charades between the three of us usually ending in no one really winning. Also today which is Day 6, I met a 8 year old boy named Tito. Liam, Elise, Isaac, and I were playing cards in our guest house when a small boy just shows up out of no where and sits down beside us while we are playing cards. Tito first sits down and grabs a the cards that were suppose to be going to me. Elise and Isaac then talk to him for a minute, they ask his name, and then ask him to give the cards to me. Tito somewhat willingly gave me the cards… except for two of them. Now in this card game I really needed those cards, so when the boy wasn’t paying attention I snatched the cards and put them in with the rest of my cards. Tito was not very happy when he realized I had taken the cards. Tito then continued to jump on me tickling me and poking at me. For a person in my position I can’t really retaliate at all so I was just trying to block him when he was trying to tickle me. The assault lasted about 2 minutes and during that time Liam, Elise, and Isaac very much enjoyed it and even cared enough to take some photos.
My first overall count of the trumpet section was 17. Fifteen minutes later it was up to 35 total students seeking to play trumpet. After warming up with Cara, a professional trumpeter. Each student took turns doing a quick audition for the advanced band group. Cara, conducted auditions, leaving 34 smiling faces patiently waiting for me to run through scales in Creole. After the initial giggles, wrong scales, and introductions we split off into advanced and beginner bands for sectionals. In my sectional at 8 A.M. I sat with David and Jean Carlot helping play with the trumpet 3’s. David, or Casanova enjoyed singing and shouting “YUNG MONEY!” whenever we crushed a phrase in one go. Later on I met with Yves and Jean to play a trumpet trio for practice. In the younger group I met some cute little kids like Dave and Phanarh, along with Oslo, a quiet but inexperienced trumpeter looking to play pieces instantly. Cara and I worked on counting and notes with the younger group. The younger students started off as 13 different tones, but quickly worked through their initial troubles with music. However, Phanarh decided she liked being the group drama queen, playing 50% of the time, while waving to me the other 50%. Even though the language barrier was initially hard to overcome. Even though it’s a challenge. I’ve learned enough Creole (plus hand gestures) to communicate with the trumpets. The most rewarding part of my trip so far has been learning and teaching with my fellow musicians that work all week to communicate and play in a fun way.
The first few days here have been truly amazing. We have been welcomed wholeheartedly into a wonderful community of educators and students, eagerly pursuing musical endeavors during every waking moment. Haitian students are early to rise, often waking up our own students with music at 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning. Rehearsals run for a majority of the day, but most students take any break as a chance to practice. It is truly inspiring to work with students who take nothing for granted, and treasure their time here. Liz, the students, and I are constantly propelled by the enthusiasm all of our Haitian students exhibit. While days are long, hot, and exhausting, the adrenaline one experiences while teaching provides all of the energy a person needs. As the week ramps up in preparation for our concert this Sunday, I look forward to the many challenges and experiences we will face.
After waking up at 3:30 AM and traveling by plane for 8 hours it felt good to finally get to Port-Au-Prince. However, it seems most airlines view saran wrapped aerosol cans as “bomb material” so I was left without my checked bag. On day 2, Bernadette, my hero recovered my worldly belongings like corn nuts and clean underwear. Even though I lost 80% of gear. The mountainous camp setting in Cange offered beautiful views all around Haiti and wonderful people that were slightly confused by my Creolenglish. The beauty and friendliness of Cange is met with poverty and desolation like that in Port-Au-Prince, but as Mr. John Jost shows, even if for one week, music can hide Haiti’s struggles from the campers and staffs’ minds. So far my trip has been amazing. I’ve taught children who can barely buzz and learned from campers who can play sky-high notes for 6 hours. Also, by day 2 I was able to give in to my inner moistness and deal with the humidity…
So far, so good. It’s been cooler in temperature than I’ve ever experienced. The humidity is still extremely high and there has been some rain everyday. The students have adjusted well. Liam’s bag did not arrive with us and he was a TROOPER dealing without. We found clothes and toiletries for him. The bag came at the end of our first full day here. Thankfully!
Isaac has done a fantastic job jumping right in for our MMO students and also for the Haitian Music students here.
I’ve been asked to teach a Beginning Band Pedagogy class to the Haitian Music teachers and I am VERY excited about it! These teachers teach their love of music and give all they have to their students. Unlike teachers in the States, THIS camp experience is the only “professional development” opportunity for the Haitian Music teachers and I’m am thrilled to be part of it!
The wifi has been more spotty than ever before. We are writing blogs on a document as we go. Though, they post day/time may not match the material, we want to ensure you are seeing the students and teachers reactions as we go, despite that it may not be a “live” as we’d like.
And, one disclaimer, please forgive any “typo’s” as we are trying get our thoughts out as fast as possible so we can get back to the students and the music!
First night in Haiti! The airplane ride was fun to get to Haiti, other than the total of 0 people that i sat next to who spoke a word of english, and when the person speaking english was clearly overstepping his bounds into my seat. As a result he blocked the arm of the chair that had the remote to the TV on it while continued to yell in greek at his friend sitting under a foot away for 3 hours.Fortunately I was on a plane ride to Haiti so it was worth it. The second I stepped out of the plane in Port Au Prince I saw a very long flatland that lead to about three massive mountains. Getting our bags and getting through customs was pretty crazy (it probably felt more crazy to me being my first time going into another country and going through customs). When we got out of the airport and started making our way towards the bus, which we would take up to Cange. One thing that did kind of strike me off guard a bit was the amount of private security contractors I could see just within my first few minutes of being in the country. Once we got on the bus we had a very aggressive but relaxing and beautiful bus ride to Cange.
First day in Haiti! Slowly but surely we’re acclimating to the language and the heat (not as bad as anticipated!), and having a blast. The flights were long and exhausted, and we spent more time than anyone wanted or expected waiting in line at the Boston airport and again at the Port-au-Prince baggage claim (ask Liam about that one, and the importance of putting a name tag on your bag), but when we were finally done with flying and packed into a bus, we were greeting with a surprisingly serene bus ride to camp: it was windy and cool with the windows open, and the slow drive through the mountains gave us the perfect tour of the scenery and small town lives of Haiti. At camp, we reunited with friends from last summer and introduced first-year travelers to the counselors and campus layout, as we tried to figure out where we’d be rooming for the night. Now we’re all settled in with our roommates and just getting to figure out the hectic schedule. So far so good!
It’s good to be back. When our plan landed in Port-Au-Prince, I let out a sigh of relief. I wasn’t sure how I would feel on my second trip to Haiti. I assumed there would be the same amount of excitement, a little less nervousness, and a sense of being back. That was exactly how I felt when we landed. Driving up to Cange was completely different this year. Not only did I have much more space, but I also stayed awake for much more of the time. I experienced the beautiful landscape and felt so happy to be here. Now that the first morning has gone by, I can say this experience is going to be amazing. I’ve met the more experienced students that I will be playing with as well as the trombonist I will be teaching. Everyone is so excited and happy to be here. I can only imagine everything will get better from here!
This is Liz posting from Isaac’s account. We had a successful flight from Boston, a delicious lunch at Steak ‘n Shake-Ft. Lauderdale Airport and a successful flight into PaP.
The drive to Cange had great scenery and a beautifully cool breeze.
MMO is pleased to welcome the 2015 Project Haiti Participants. In order to be considered for our program, students were required to fill out a rigorous application and submit it along with a recommendation from their music teacher. From our application pool, nine students were selected for our summer 2015 trip.
Workshop One, which took place in January, was the first time all the students and parents assembled together. What a great group of kids. Liz Matta, our music education director and lead teacher, will be working with the students to put together a repertoire of music for upcoming events. Ms. Matta will also be educating the students on what to expect and how to prepare for the summer trip.
Thank you to all the MMO students who have put so much of their time and effort into our program. This is what makes MMO great!