For HWS students Jean Baptiste ’14 and Courtney Franceschi ’16, along with recent graduate Lucy Hoagland ’13, this summer was all about giving back. The group spent six weeks in Haiti working as interns for the Hand in Hand for Haiti program.
Hand in Hand for Haiti was founded by Edward J. Brennan P’06, P’09, chief executive officer of DFS Group, and other leaders in the travel industry in response to the Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake that devastated the country. The program is part of an expanded initiative to craft a forceful, compassionate response through designing, building and operating a new sustainable school in the country.
The trio served at the Lycee Jean-Baptiste Pointe Du Sable School, located in Saint-Marc, an hour outside of Port-au-Prince. Working with students three to seven years of age, the group was involved in the planning and implementation of activities and lessons with a common goal of promoting social development and encouraging learning.
“It’s obvious that the opportunity to attend this school is a life-changing experience for these children,” says Hoagland, who taught English language skills. “There are many hardships facing Haiti but I believe that education can have a transformative effect. The education these children are receiving will prepare them to be the future leaders for positive change in their country.”
With roughly 4,000 schools destroyed in the country, many people, including Baptiste – whose family is from Haiti – feel a sense of responsibility to help aid the healing process.
“Since the country is still struggling to rebuild and repair, I wanted to do as much as I could to make a difference in all of their lives,” says Baptiste, who taught English and coached athletic activities. “The satisfaction I got from helping others will continue to grow, and I hope that enables others to do the same.”
Franceschi, a Geneva native, witnessed firsthand the impact community service can have on a specific area and decided the internship was a great opportunity for her to contribute to this initiative, which she said was a true inspiration.
“The pure joy that these children found in the simplest activities serves as a true inspiration to me and a reminder to appreciate the little things,” she says. “It has been an eye-opening, awe-inspiring experience.”
About the Interns
Lucy Hoagland ’13
Hoagland graduated from William Smith this spring with a B.A. in public policy and minors in sociology and international relations. While on campus, she served as the co-president of the Human Rights Collective. Additionally, she served as a student assistant in the Salisbury Center for Career Services and Professional Development and worked as a senior intern in the president’s office.
Jean Baptiste ’14
Baptiste is currently a media and society major with a minor in political science. He is a member of the Delta Chi fraternity, the America Reads program, and is on the club lacrosse team. He was recently named the Greek Man of the Year on campus.
Courtney Franceschi ’16
Franceschi is currently studying pre-medicine and is planning to major in biology. Active in the Geneva community, she volunteers as the Geneva High School assistant girls’ basketball coach and is active in the Geneva Heroes program. Additionally, she is the manager of the Random Acts of Kindness theme house and will be working as a chemistry teaching fellow this semester.