April 16, 2012 by xiren
Two week has passed since our Annual Artsale, but many of our volunteers are still looking back on it as they review their time with VHP. Here are some of their thoughts on the sale, from two of our dedicated volunteers.
Alex Ciucu ’12 (student in the middle of the picture below) is currently the Co-chair Intern on the VHP committee who came back from a year of studying abroad and started working with in her senior year. Here are her reflections:
The April Sale is one of the most demanding yet rewarding events that the VHP plans throughout the year. It is a wonderful occasion to engage with the Vassar community, since it takes place in the heart of the campus, and also because it coincides with parents’ weekend. Many volunteers take this sale as a chance to share the VHP with their families and loved ones, and Vassar students who are not usually involved with the VHP can also experience how our organization works first-hand. It is however, a very demanding event, as it spreads over three days, it includes an auction, and because we rely on our April Sale to provide the funds necessary for the year-long functioning of the Education Initiative in Chermaître. It is through the efforts of our many volunteers and thanks to the incredibly generous support of our community that we are still able to pay teachers’ salaries and provide a daily warm lunch to the children enrolled in our school.
This event is usually my favorite event that the Vassar Haiti Project organizes, but it held an even stronger meaning for me this year, after I returned from our trip to Haiti. Throughout our stay in Chermaître, I engaged in conversations with the teachers, and I was deeply moved by their desire to provide the best education possible to their students. They were very open and welcoming, and they shared their ideas about how to improve the school. Every time the VHP visits Chermaître, we realize that there are many more things that can be done in the village, and we rely on the expertise of our partners in Chermaître to guide us. The teachers are an excellent source of information, because they know the community quite well, and because their close relationship with the children ensures that they are always aware of the most stringent needs of the families. Among some of the issues we discussed with them were how to improve the children’s nutrition, and also how to encourage the continuing education of teachers.
We have succeeded in providing a basic education to many children in Chermaître, and for that we are incredibly grateful to our patrons. However, the education initiative does not end with the construction of the school building, but continues for many years to come. During our stay in Chermaître, the structure that served as the kindergarten collapsed, and we now have to think about how we can build a new, safe building for our youngest classes, which are also the most numerous. We need to keep thinking about how to ensure that the children are healthy, as well as educated, and for that we need to take a closer look at their nutrition. We need to make sure that the teachers have the best resources available, so that they are able to do their jobs to the highest standard possible.
The funds that we raised at the April Sale go towards such projects, and it is worth remembering that even the smallest support goes a very long way in Chermaître. Thank you to everyone who came and to all the volunteers that gave so many of their hours to this event. It was great getting to meet you all!
Manny Singh ’15 is currently a freshman who just joined VHP this semester. This is his first VHP sale to be volunteering at! Here are his reflections on this new experience.
I joined the Vassar Haiti Project earlier this semester and in my entire time here, I only can come up with one regret: not having joined earlier. Last week, we had our incredible April Art Sale and I can honestly say I’ve never seen anything quite like this.
From basically living in the CCMPR for a week, the transformation of the walls from being basically bare to full of vibrant Haitian art was astonishing. When I first signed up to bring down the art from the storage rooms, I had no idea just how much could be stored in two small rooms. After that, just arranging all of the art cohesively and in an organized way seemed to be an inconceivable task. But the part that makes the Vassar Haiti Project particularly special, is how working together made any sort of seemingly insurmountable task one hundred and fifty percent possible. People took charge, brought fantastic ideas to the table and all of this passion (from current students, alums, community members, volunteers and everyone else) fueled a sensational sale.
During the auction on Saturday, I was a runner and while I was holding the art, it really struck me how different this whole organization is. By using art to not only help Haitians, people get a great chance to appreciate and learn about a remarkable culture. If I could, I would’ve bought most of the art myself (just throwing it out there, the blue roosters were particularly fantastic). This was my first sale with VHP and I can absolutely say this won’t be last!