June 11, 2012 by prsevilla
- Claudia Sanchez, 2011 Alumna (Co-President 2010-11)
It seems like changes are happening all at the same time for VHP. After a year away from the project, and following a very involved career in it, it is a very odd feeling to go back and see the project in action without you. I always expected VHP to do great things after my class graduated, because -let’s face it- the project was already doing great things despite us! Yet, as you leave a position of leadership you always wonder who will take care of what; and you worry, much like a parent, about whether the new members will remember to do this or that.
We all left VHP with a heavy heart. Having the chance to come back for the April sale this year was a privilege as exciting as it was trying: I was eager to see my friends again, but I was also intrigued at what the project would look like after a year without us. With a project like ours, there’s always room for improvement and there is always a new thing to learn. There always seems to be a detail that escapes us yet we somehow learn the trick one or two years later; and all of this comes naturally.
So, imagine coming back to a project that had learned a hefty amount of new tricks and you never got to see how they did it? It was magical! I walked in expecting to find old friends and a similar dynamic. But thank goodness I didn’t! As I left VHP last year, I knew that it was missing the beautiful friendly dynamic I had enjoyed my first couple of years. Dynamics and interactions are not something you can manufacture, but there was some missing element there. I will not say what this element is because it is a mystery to me as well – but I will say that the new team found it and infused the project with the life I remembered. The VHP has been blessed with an engaged, dedicated, and incredibly talented group of freshmen. Not only that, but the current leadership is so involved and so loving, I felt like they were miles away from what I had accomplished there. This is an honor to admit. Walking in and meeting all of these committed people, seeing the great family energy, and meeting with the love of old friends – it was a very pleasant experience.
I say that all changes are happening at once because just a few weeks after I witnessed the rebirth of this VHP dynamic, the project got its 501(c)3 status. It’s almost like they knew just what was missing and rewarded us for it.
Congratulations, VHP! I expect to be there next April again, ready to be amazed at the next great thing you (and I also mean “we”) accomplish.
- Raluca Besliu, 2011 Alumna (VP for Outreach 2010-11)
In 2011, the VHP started more amply pursuing one of its U.S.-oriented goals, raising awareness about Haitian art and artists as well as promoting a different image of Haiti, one that does not exclusively cover the negative aspects the country is currently undergoing, but highlighting the positive ones, which are often overlooked by the media and NGOs. The VHP achieved this goal, by organizing more art sales and other events outside Vassar and Poughkeepsie and reaching communities that it had never been to before. It continued this goal in 2012 as well. Obtaining the not-for-profit organization status opens new opportunities for the VHP to enhance this previously mentioned awareness raising goal, by partnering with organizations, which might had previously been less inclined to do so, but also to develop new goals, all in the effort to help the people of Chermaitre and Haiti lead a better life!
- Emily Strasser, 2010 Alumna
It was their heart that got me. I still remember—it was during
orientation week my freshman year. My registration for the “begin
school adventure” (or whatever they called it that year) had been lost
and instead of going hiking, I was assigned to the Vassar Haiti
Project. I was pretty disappointed that instead of spending the day
with the trees in the sunshine, I would be inside stretching
paintings. But I left that room at the end of the day completely
smitten with the project, drawn to the incredible passion, love, and
generosity of Lila and Andrew and the amazing students and community
members they had gathered around them. VHP became my Vassar family,
and what I experience when I visited Haiti in 2008 only solidified my
belief in our work.
Six years later, I love that I still receive enthusiastic emails from
Lila (complete with colored fonts and lots of exclamation points)
announcing the success of sales and our newly minted 501c3 status. To
me, the status doesn’t change a thing about what I encountered in that
room six years ago, about what I encounter every time I enter a sale
or reunite with project members. But not everyone in the world is
lucky enough to see how all this happens from the inside, so I am
thrilled that our official status will legitimize our work in the eyes
of the world—it will make all that heart reach just a bit farther.