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SIT Graduate Institute
"I love my country, and I would like to serve it as much and as long as I can."
- Putting passion into practice with experientially-based master's degree programs.
- Equipping tomorrow's leaders with real-world strategies, on-the-ground field experience in area of study, and the intercultural management skills sought after in global leaders.
SIT graduate Michel-Ange Jerome was teaching English in Haiti when he felt the ground shake unexpectedly, marking the early moments of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck the small island nation in January.
"I felt the vibrations of the earthquake as if I was right in the middle of it," said Jerome, a native of Haiti who teaches English as a Second Language, or ESL, at the Université Publique du Nord au Cap-Haïtien, which is about 125 miles north of the quake's epicenter.
Jerome survived the disaster, but it took an emotional and physical toll, including the loss of several of his friends and colleagues at the university. Also among the dead or missing are about 100 of Jerome's students.
"I lost so many personal friends, and still today the numbers keep adding up," said Jerome. "I also lost all my material belongings... but when you lose so many human beings, material things are worth nothing."
Jerome, who received his Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) from SIT Graduate Institute, is still coming to terms with the earthquake's aftermath. However, he sees his role as an educator as important to Haiti's future. He credits SIT for providing him with the knowledge and tools to be an effective and innovative teacher in a country where most students are accustomed to traditional teaching methods. He believes the teaching style he gained from the graduate program - which involves a practical and interactive approach to language as opposed to rote memorization - is why his students find his classes so rewarding.
On the other hand, Jerome is candid about the limitations of the teaching profession at a time when most Haitians and international relief organizations are engaged in the process of rebuilding the country. Teaching English seems less relevant when there are immediate needs for food, water, roads, shelter, and infrastructure. That's why Jerome hopes to integrate his passion for teaching with practical measures that can benefit his fellow Haitians sooner.
"People in Haiti were not informed, prepared, and did not know how to react to this earthquake," he explained, citing the example of a friend who believed it was safer to run to his room, instead of outdoors, when the earthquake struck. One way the international community can assist Haiti is by training its citizens and its government - for example, how and where to properly build homes and other structures - so that the country will be better prepared in case of another crisis, Jerome said.
In March, Jerome traveled to the US to learn from leaders in the field of ESL teaching, as part of World Learning's International Visitor Leadership Program. The 18-day exchange program also provided an opportunity for Jerome, along with eight other ESL teachers from countries in the Western Hemisphere, to meet with American counterparts in cities like Boston, San Francisco, and Kansas City. Jerome plans to bring his newfound knowledge back to Haiti, where he can begin the process of rebuilding both his life and his country.
"I love my country, and I would like to serve it as much and as long as I can," he said.
by Michael Snyder