This April 1-5, the STU Center for Justice and Peace coordinated a faculty/student delegation to Haiti, where the group immersed themselves in the reality of Miami’s sister-diocese of Port-de-Paix, and furthered next steps on the University’s long-term development projects in the region.

This Spring’s immersion took place within the context of the University’s broader STU/Port-de-Paix Global Solidarity project – a long-term initiative working to leverage the university’s research and teaching resources into long-term development in Miami’s Sister-Diocese of Port-de-Paix. (See www.stu.edu/haiti).

The majority of this year’s students were participating as part of the University’s annual BUS 409/509: Social Entrepreneurship course. Facilitated by the STU Center for Justice and Peace, offered by the STU School of Business, and in collaboration with Biscayne College and the School of Leadership, BUS 409/509 is an introduction to Social Entrepreneurship - a business management and development model that includes a "double bottom line" of both profit and social-responsibility. Students in the course apply their learning to one of three economic development projects STU is engaging in our sister-diocese of Port-de-Paix, Haiti, and have the opportunity to take part in a heavily subsidized immersion
experience in Port-de-Paix.

In 2013 there were two additional programs integrating a Haitian focus (and the Haiti immersion) as “Engaged scholarship” units of theirs courses:

Students of STM 310D: Religions of Latin America and the Caribbean studied Haitian religiosity - both historically and in a contemporary context – while meeting with numerous religious leaders in rural Northwest Haiti to further their research and apply their learning;

Students of the STU Graduate Counseling Programs prepared the wider traveling group for this international/intercultural experience, and applied their group counseling skills by debriefing/counsel the travelers throughout (and after) the immersion process.

On the immersion, students had the opportunity to have extensive meetings with St. Thomas’s on-the-ground community partners. This included the farmers of the Cocano Fair-Trade Coffee Cooperative (see www.cafecocano.com); the artisans of the Ateyle Thevenet Fair-Trade Artisan group (see www.haitiartisancrafts.com); and the staff of Haiti Tec – a key implementation partner in the St. Thomas/Port-de-Paix Cathedral Solar Energy Initiative.

Other highlights of the trip included extensive meetings with:

- The Vice-Counsel of Haiti for Miami

- The Senate Deputy for Haiti’s Northwest

- Staff of Haiti’s Ministry of Agriculture

- The Owner and Staff of Café Selecto (a leading Haitian Coffee roaster),

- The Country Representative for Catholic Relief Services Haiti,

- Meetings with Caritas Ma Wouj; and

- Interviews on Haitian National Television.

The trip was an incredible success, and students from the courses are now working to implement their learning in next steps efforts for the projects.

For more information on STU’s partnership in Haiti, and to learn how you can get involved, contact the STU Center for Justice and Peace (avinciguerra@stu.edu) or visit: www.stu.edu/haiti