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Staff Feature

Meet Wilson Dorsica

The Joseph School staff first met Wilson when he was only fifteen. When asked about where he went to school he shared that he’d never been to school. His family could not simply afford it. His mother had died when he was young and his father was 80, and not well enough to take care of him and his family. Wilson then took on the responsibility of taking care of his father, sister, and brother from a young age. 

 Daily life was a struggle for Wilson like many children and teens growing up in Haiti. Children have little time to just be children; There is work to do no matter their age. They have jobs to do each day just to survive, leaving no time for school, and little money to pay for daily food. More than a half million children and teens in Haiti are out of school for a multitude of reasons. Like Wilson, some are without parents or without healthy parents, educational costs are too expensive, no transportation to schools, and gang violence.

 Wilson was invited by our staff to come help with some of the clean-up tasks after a soccer game. He began to come to The Joseph School after that day offering to help out with whatever he could. He did this without asking for any payment. If he saw the staff cleaning, he joined in. If he saw a dirty TJS vehicle, he would wash it. If our TJS’ repairman, Wilkens, was fixing something, Wilson watched carefully, learning what to do and then offering his help.

 At that time TJS was only an elementary school and Wilson was beyond the age to attend. With his help, a job description was created for him to start employment at the school.  He became our repairman’s assistant. His role with The Joseph School encouraged him to enroll in a trade school to become a licensed plumber. He used some of his salary to pay for school while working part-time. Wilson arrives early to our TJS campus, cleaning and checking every classroom before heading to his school. After his own classes, he returned to TJS and completed any school maintenance. 

 Wilson is intelligent, resourceful, and resilient. He just needed an opportunity. A simple job and further education provided that. Wilson shared he had to step out in faith when he enrolled in the trade school. He needed to believe that he could succeed. Before he started the program, he went to a printer and printed his own business cards. This helped him believe that he could persevere through challenging times and complete his training.

 Wilson is now a trade school graduate and continues to work for TJS.  His story is an example of the leadership ripple effect TJS is having in Haiti. When Wilson is asked, “What makes you most proud to be a part of TJS?” He responds: “First, I have learned how to give to others by being a part of something great for this nation. Second, it helps me get closer to God. With my salary I have been able to pay for my trade school as well as help my aging father, sister, and brother.”

 At TJS, we not only reach out to our students but also to those around us. TJS provides Wilson and those like him an opportunity to give back; growing new leaders for the nation of Haiti.

 


Dancing to the Beat of Our Own Drum (International Song and Dance Day)

“The beat of the drum resonates from the soul of the Haitian people and is expressed through movement. Haitian dance has its roots in Africa and tells stories of important life events, invokes spirits, and promotes fellowship among those in earshot of the sounds.”

Music is a unifying force across each culture and country around the world. This is no different in the diverse and vibrant country of Haiti!

Kompa

The Kompa is a popular form of song and dance in Haiti, which originated, in part, from Spanish Meringue. “Kompa adopted its moniker from the Spanish word “compás,” which means “rhythm” or “measure,” as in a musical measure or bar.” This form of dance takes influences from jazz, with big band brass instruments accompanying Haitian rhythms of drums or bongos. The particular variety of music originated with Jean-Baptiste and his band during the 1950s. Since that time, it has become almost synonymous with Haitian music.

TJS students perform at the annual culture day

Music in the Classroom

The Joseph School is built on six fundamental pillars of education, one of which is celebrating Haitian culture and history through its curriculum. It would be a disservice to the students to exclude the rich tradition of music from their schooling, which is why a foot-tapping tune can frequently be heard across The Joseph School campus. 

Music has long been associated with increased retention for lessons in school. TJS builds on this and specifically incorporates music into its learning modules. This method has been so successful, even our professional development partners at P4H have incorporated music into their teachings. Music was a strong part of the lessons P4H taught during our three-year partnership with its organization.

TJS Teachers join in song during a P4H training lesson 

Music at TJS

Aside from the benefits music has on learning, it’s also a whole lot of fun! The Joseph School holds a play day each year, which is similar to an American school’s field day. The students participate in outdoor games such as sack races, tag, and, at TJS, dancing! Each classroom (roughly 15 – 18 students) composes a dance routine and performs in a competition on play day. The teachers of each grade plan most of the choreography, but in the older grades some of the students collaborate to create a joint routine. After each grade performs, the entire student body votes on which performance was the best.

TJS students perform at the holiday party

Similarly, each grade performs a song or dance at the annual Christmas party. It is common for American schools to have a sing-a-long performance for the students around the holiday season, but at The Joseph School a specific emphasis on dance is also included in the program.

We hope you enjoyed this small glimpse at some of the incredible traditions of Haitian culture celebrated at The Joseph School!

Sources:
https://www.masterclass.com/articles/kompa-music-guide#what-is-kompa
https://crudem.org/dance-in-haiti/


In Their Words

The Joseph School strives to educate students in Haiti and provide a foundation for a successful future- but why hear it from us? Hear from some of our 7th grade students on their personal experiences at The Joseph School in this month’s interview blog!

Chrislor 

 

Chrislor in 2015 (left) and 2022 (right)

Q: What do you want to do when you grow up?
A: [I want to be an] engineer [because] it’s great when you’re watching a house being built.

Q: How has The Joseph School prepared you for this?
A: The school can help me become an engineer in learning geometry and much more

 

Q: What is your proudest moment in school?
A: [I feel my proudest in math and French classes.]

Q: Who is someone at TJS that you look up to?
A: I admire Mr. Elusma the most for the joy he puts into his work and the joy he brings to our hearts.

Q: What is your favorite thing about attending TJS?
A: I love everything in school, the activities, everything completely.

Q: What makes you excited about coming to school every day?
A: The way the teachers are always working and because I always find my friends to tell jokes.

Elysha

Elysha in 2015 (left) and 2022 (right)

Q: What do you want to do when you grow up?
A: I would like to be a great doctor in the world.

Q: How has The Joseph School prepared you for this?
A: The school can help me learn everything related to medicine, such as biology.

Q: What is your proudest moment in school?
A: I feel proud when teachers are teaching classes.

Q: Who is someone at TJS that you look up to?
A: Throughout the school I admire the physics and math teacher.

Q: What is your favorite thing about attending TJS?
A: [The lessons the teachers use in the classroom.]

Q: What makes you excited about coming to school every day?
A: [I am] motivated to come to school so that I can learn and prepare for anything.