Returning back to the States, there were several moments that stuck out to me from the trip to Haiti. The 20+ students stuck out the week, and either graduated with business fundamentals certificates or advanced business skills certificates by the end of the week. Our goal of the week was to teach the local Haitians business fundamentals in order for them to start small businesses or be better employees. While we accomplished this goal, I believe I learned more from them than they learned from me.
While we originally brought a months’ worth of discussion questions and activities on the subjects of Economics, Finance, Marketing, Operations Management, Entrepreneurship, and Management, we were not able to use all that we brought. We had to be strategic in the material we taught, or else we would lose their attention. It was humorous transitioning from an exercise calculating fixed and variable cost to an exercise where they had to teach the class a new dance move. Even though we did not have time to teach all that we wanted, the Haitian students learned a lot about business that week. With further help from the UA students, their small businesses will be ready to go in 2016.
Our students learned a great deal from us during the week, but here is one thing I learned from them. We asked our students to describe something from everyday life that annoys them and think of an innovation for that. For us, that would look like being annoyed with traffic, being annoyed when wifi does not work, being annoyed when we cannot get football tickets etc. For the Haitians, they could not think of anything that annoys them. The fact that they did not have clean running water, unemployment was 85%, or that traffic jams lasted 3 hours did not annoy them at all. They were just happy to be alive. After discovering this, we realized this exercise was not going to work making us adapt to a new exercise. However, I learned that I have nothing to be unhappy about here in America. We are so blessed with all that we have, and people in third world countries are happier than we are here.