Freshman James Landreth ’16 reflects on his first experience at the Haitian Art Auction and Sale this past weekend – the most important date on VHP’s annual calendar! Needless to say, thanks to all of you, the sale was once again a resounding success chock full of memorable and exciting moments. Is it 2014 yet?
James Landreth ’16 with Robyn Yzelman ’15 at the auction
Because my first experience with VHP was the Avon art sale, I thought I knew what to expect for the April art sale. I knew it would involve teamwork and planning, and that the experience would be a positive one. I did not expect, however, for the sale to go so far above and beyond my expectations as it did. The April sale dwarfed the one I had first encountered, which meant that everything about it was more complex as well.
Turning a part of Vassar College into a space attempting to bridge the gap between us and Haiti turned out to be an involved process, and was one we had to begin several days in advance. People from all over our community came to help, with different ideas and perspectives on building this new space coming into play both before and during our sale. But like the family we are, VHP didn’t falter during this time, but instead grew stronger, and turned out an even better sale because of our variety of viewpoints.
The auction was dedicated to longtime community volunteer Roseanne Ashby (middle)
Lorraine Kwok ’15 presenting an auction painting
The room itself became a magical place for a few days, wherein we were privileged to hear our fellow VHPers speak about their experiences in Haiti, and wherein we were also able to share as a group our efforts to rebuild Haiti and connect with Chermaitre.
It’s this ability to work together and create, and this way of making spaces magical, that makes the Vassar Haiti Project an important part of my life and of our community as a whole. For me, the privilege lies in just being there and sharing this space.
The sale was bustling with volunteers and customers, new and old!
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We are proud to host George Desarmes (a.k.a. Yves Michaud) for a Meet the Artist session at the Annual Art Auction & Sale next week. In addition to showcasing and debuting Desarmes’ numerous paintings, the event is an exciting opportunity to meet a gifted Haitian artist, and gain intimate insights into his life and creative vision.
Saturday, April 6
Vassar College CC MPR
Desarmes was born in 1950 in Port-au-Prince. Throughout his impressive career beginning in 1969, he has made his mark as an accomplished artist, and has painted and exhibited around the world. He draws inspiration from the streets, landscapes and vibrancy of life around him. Using thick and rich colors, Desarmes paints with broad impressionist brushstrokes to capture the beauty of Haitian life as well as the grandiosity of Haiti’s sea and landscapes.
In addition, read about the students’ meeting with him on the trip last week!
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Today is our last day in Haiti. The past 11 days have been a memorable experience that we cannot wait to share with all the VHP members in Poughkeepsie. After a 7-hour drive and countless stops at the gas stations, we finally returned to the historic Hotel Oloffson from Cap Haitien. It was a very cheerful night with live music, dancing, and sharing stories.
The party continued into the morning… a packing party. We bought many beautiful handicrafts and paintings from Port-au-Prince and Cap Haitien for the upcoming annual April’s Haitian Art Sale and Auction at Vassar College. Opening the boxes of paintings and handicrafts felt like opening Christmas presents. We also finally got a tiny taste of delicious Haitian mangoes for breakfast. This is the perfect ending to our time in Haiti. We know that we will return to Haiti and to Chermaitre very soon. Until then, we will bring Haitian happiness back to wintry New York.
Mai, Robyn, Priscilla, Ning, Tamsin, Lorraine, Annie, Carrie, Manny, Sida, Lila and Andrew
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We’re moving– almost unbelievably– in to the last leg of our journey in Haiti. Yesterday we drove all the way from Gros Morne to Cap Haitien; though it was a long, bumpy ride we made it here safely. Today we had the chance to visit a small street art market, stop by the Cap Haitien Health Network warehouse, see College Saint Esprit, one of Pere Noe’s schools, and catch up with Claire Frohman, a VHP alumna who’s been working at SOIL. After that we relaxed on the beach and chowed down on some mamba and guava jelly sandwiches…but that’s a whole different story.
Tomorrow we’re off to Port au Prince again!
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We survived hiking up and down the mountain, had lots of productive dialogues with teachers, women from the community, students, and other partners! We’re now setting off for the Cap, we have so much to update but we’ll do that when we get more Internet access.
With lots of love from Gros-Morne!
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Hello VHPers! It is finally spring break at Vassar. While most of us are relaxing and sleeping, we are excited that a team of VHPers are in Haiti with Lila and Andrew, in hot weather, their sandals and t-shirts wrapped around their heads, their hands ready to help and their minds ready to learn.
This pause in the semester is an excellent time to reflect on what we’ve done, where we are, and what we have yet to do. In terms of events, we kicked off this semester with the Avon Sale in Avon, CT, hometown of our very own Co-VP of Programming, Sarah Oliver ’15. The sale was an absolute success and we raised just under $11,000 including web sales! Following the sale, Laura Livingston (alum) and Charlene Ren ’14 from the Water and Reforestation Initiatives, along with the help of other VHPers and the Environmental Studies department, held a movie screening/panel/discussion about global inequalities of land and water. Terry Leroy, co-founder of Haitian Peoples’ Support Project gave his insight into sustainable living projects in Haiti. In addition, we have also held a film screening of One day, everything will be free by Joseph Redwood-Martinez (a Vassar alum, now filmmaker) about the Haitian Sadhana Forest living community. Other fundraising efforts include the StartSomeGood campaign set up by the Education Initiative Directors (Tamsin Chen ’15 and Sahara Pradhan ’15). Other smaller events have included Munchy Mondays (where the trippers sell delicious Haitian food in the college center to fundraise for the trip) and Stretching Parties (where we “stretch” the paintings into frames). Furthermore, our VP of Outreach, Cindy Fung ’14 has, along with many other events, organized a presentation of what VHP does to the Arlington Rotary Club,, Kiwanis Club, the Haldane High School and the UU Fellowship. Just last weekend, Lila and Andrew were recognized by at the Mill Street Loft Gala for their work in creating VHP.
For the rest of the semester, we have even more planned, including a teach-in on International Aid, an on-campus fundraiser, a tripper presentation, art sales in New York City and most importantly our April Sale where George Desarmes (one of the Haitian painters) will be coming to Vassar!
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Hello from Gros Morne! We woke up before the sun to a glorious orchestra of rooster crows, cat meows, dogs barking and goats bleating this morning, and have just fueled up on breakfast at our dear partner Pere Jonas’ home. We are extremely excited to go to the Chermaitre-Fiervil clinic, then make the hike to the village of Chermaitre, after all these months of planning and hoping! Wish us luck for the trip! We hope to have plenty to share when we’re back from Chermaitre.
Love, (in order of sleepiness)
Annie, Carrie, Manny, Lila, Sida, Robyn, Andrew, Priscilla, Ning, Peter, Tamsin, Lorraine, and Mai
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As co-vice president of the Merchandise Committee, I have always seen the paintings in the setting of stretching, inventory, and art sales at Vassar. Yesterday was a great opportunity to experience the artwork in Haiti not only for me, but also for the trippers because this is where it all begins. VHP flourishes through the artwork and handicrafts that we sell, but there is so much more to just selling the paintings. We are able to bring a part of Haitian culture to campus and are able to share the artists’ work with the students of Vassar campus as well as the community members.
Students with George Desarmes and his paintings
Yesterday morning, we had the opportunity to meet with George Desarmes, one of the artists who we greatly admire. Being able to hear his story was truly a blessing. During the discussion, Desarmes told us that he’s inspired by “what’s around me,” from boys and girls playing in the street to sweeping Haitian landscape.
For the rest of the day, we visited three Haitian art galleries, each of which had a different flavor and feel. We were lucky enough to meet Haiti’s regional director of Heiffer international, who helped us learn about agronomy-related sustainability projects.
It was an action-packed and exciting day. Today we’re off to Gros Morne. It’s a 4 hour drive! It bears mentioning that we’re all getting to know each other very well :)
Stay tuned for more updates later on in the trip!
- Lorraine Kwok ’15
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From the very beginning, we knew that our trip to Haiti wasn’t going to be easy, but we also knew that no obstacle could stop us. Today is the first day of our trip, and it’s definitely been a long and special day. At 3:45 AM, trippers jumped off couches, sofas, and beds in Andrew & Lila’s house. After months of preparation and fundraising, it was finally the time to start the journey. Two vans came right on time. However, 10 minutes later, we were faced with our first challenge. While the first van was already heading toward JFK, our second van was stuck in the ice and mud in front of the Meades’ house. We tried everything (literally) to get it out, but our attempts were in vain. We were all anxious about missing the flight until another van arrived to get us at 7:00. Eventually, of course, we made the flight, otherwise I would not be writing a blog post now in our hotel in Port-Au-Prince.
Our first day in Haiti has been a whirlwind so far. We made it safely to our hotel, Hotel Oloffson, which is an oasis in the bustling, colorful, wild city of Port-au-Prince. It’s lush with tropical trees, the walls are filled with massive Haitian paintings (reminiscent of what you’ll find at our art sales back in the U.S.), and there are lizards, families of chickens, and a cat running around. The Oloffson was Graham Greene’s backdrop for his novel The Comedian, set in 1970s Haiti.
Pere David and Andrew discussing Les Petits Chanteurs
We got the chance to take a look at some outdoor Haitian art markets, we saw the leveled field where the Grand Palais (Haiti’s equivalent of the White House) used to stand before the earthquake, and we visited our friend Père David César at Trinite Ecole de Musique, home of Les Petits Chanteurs, a student music group that came on tour the East Coast– including Vassar’s campus!– two years ago.
Right now we’re writing from the balcony at the Oloffson. A Haitian band is playing live music in the background as we try to decipher the Creole menu.
Stay tuned for more updates throughout the week.
- Sida Fang ’15
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Robyn, Mai, Tamsin, Priscilla, Carrie, Annie, Manny, Lorraine, Ning and Sida
Twelve hours until we board the plane to Port-au-Prince, Haiti!
We are, as always, tired but excited! After all the fundraising and planning, we are finally here. We’re ready to put midterms, life stress and little concerns behind us, and jump right into the opportunity and honor of representing our fellow VHP-ers on this trip to Haiti.
(We’re also extremely eager to put our Creole to work and to finally meet the wonderful George Desarmes, whose artwork has been featured at many a VHP sale.)
Manny: *Sneeze*! (I’m allergic to the cat hair at Andrew and Lila’s place.)
Tamsin: SO PUMPED. N ap boule!
Annie: I’m failing at live-tweeting pack day, but I’m succeeding at actually packing! I’m looking forward to seeing a real Haitian market in action after so many years of admiring Haitian market scene paintings, and especially to playing with the kids!
Robyn: M rele Robyn. Blanc sa a ka pale Kreyol! Translation: My name is Robyn. This foreigner can speak Creole!
Sida: READY TO GO!
Priscilla: I can’t wait to meet more people like Haitian grandpa!!
Mai: DINNER’S READY! LET’S EAT!
Carrie: Can’t wait to see the kids and Chermaitre itself!
Lila: How did I get roped into this?!
Lorraine: I cannot wait to be immersed in Haiti’s culture and to see the children of Chermaitre!
Ning: We will get soooo tanned~^^ Can’t wait for Haiti!
Andrew: Bring it on!
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