Eastern Michigan University experience with N a Sonje

EMU and Na Sonje 2015: We Will Remember

11235800_10100241976054994_1295172653691298910_n Prior to arriving to Ayiti (Haiti), we prepared ourselves for the trip by learning some history, basic Creole words/phrases, and a little bit about Ayisyen Culture. Although we felt that we had prepared fairly extensively, being at Na Sonje we were able to gain a much deeper understanding of all of these topics. Na Sonje facilitated our learning through small group conversations, artistic expression, food, homestays, personal story sharing, culture and language lessons, and hands on immersive experiences.

While at Na Sonje we learned a song that embodied the importance of sharing with one another and being able to learn and grow with one another through interpersonal experiences- such as telling our stories or being invited into another person’s home. By listening to one another’s stories we were able to find similarities, and realized that we are more similar than different. By allowing ourselves to step outside of our comfort zones we were able to be more vulnerable and have a more genuine connection with each other. Everyone has a story to tell, and by opening ourselves up to strangers (who we can now call friends) we realized how we can benefit from learning the stories of others around us at home as well.

Na Sonje and the surrounding community impacted us all a great deal and although this wasn’t a traditional service trip, we were able to see the impact of our time spent on the community at Na Sonje. As we were entering an unfamiliar community it was important for us to hear, and for them to tell, the history and the current story of Ayiti from Ayisyen’s themselves. When working with Na Sonje were to able support various local artisans when we made coffee, casava bread, and peanut butter. We also visited a local bakery, gift shop, and a woman’s home who made us corn pudding. In all of these experiences we not only learned a great deal about the work that goes into producing all of these things within the community, but we were also able to support the community financially through our participation.

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