Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sports in Haiti

For the last few days, our lives have been filled with sports. On Fridays this spring, we stay late after school to cheer on our high school boys' basketball team. Go Eagles!
I would like to caption the above photo "a bunch of elementary boys have the best hour of their life". While those around me hung on every rebound and foul shot, I was cracking up at this little vignette across the court from me. These 4/5/6th graders were absolutely glowing with the attention of two of our supercute high school girls. They were trying to be so cool.
Mostly all the teachers stay to cheer on our boys. These games are great opportunities to chat with students, meet parents, try to learn a few new Kreyol words (so far, have learned words for foul, ball, shoot, board, and calm down), and support students in something outside the classroom.

Our friend Art is the coach. After several initial wins, the team has experienced several weeks in a row of losing by just a few points after down-to-the-last-shot games. I see this as a real growth opportunity. Some students need to work on issues of character- namely, lack of self-discipline, lack of toughness, and just plain laziness. When they talk about losing, it seems like they are thinking about things in a new way, or getting a fire to work harder.
This league is run by the Haitian national basketball association, so there are corporate sponsors at some games. Apparently, one of the hot new products sponsoring high school basketball in Haiti is........Borden eggnog. For serious?
Last week our school threw a family sports day. I was so looking forward to the event as a chance to meet more parents. Unfortunately I didn't meet any new parents- mostly elementary ones attended, and it was the parents who always come. Art was on the mic, leading games. Ben anchored the male teachers' tug-of-war.
Katie, Jaime and I snacked and hung out. I love being their next door neighbor.
 The day after family sports day at Quisqueya, Ben and I went to watch a different kind of basketball game. There is an adult men's league in Haiti where all the teams are sponsored by corporations- the biggest in Haiti. There is a Digicel team and a Voila team (the two largest cell phone companies), a Mache Ti Tony (major rice wholesaler) team, Sogebank (big Haitian bank) team, and then a team for Cola Couronne, which produces an orange "fruit champagne" soft drink that is really popular in Haiti.
Art is the coach for the Couronne corporate team, and we went to watch a game in a new part of the city. How beautiful is the view at this court, right at the foot of the mountain?
Let me tell you a little about these basketball games. There are hundreds of people stuffed into a tiny space. Personal space, gone. There is a cacophony of dueling noisemakers, including vuvuzela-like horns, a DJ narrating the entire game, and no less than three rival rah-rah bands, one for each of the major brands represented there: Couronne, Digicel, and Voila. This is a picture of the Digicel section, with their t-shirts (there were rival marketing teams handing out branded apparel at the door), their flags, their band of horns and drums. Very loud, very wow-there-are-people-touching-me, very intense. Also very fun.
Finally, Quisqueya held a students vs. staff flag football game last Wednesday. The game was organized by Ben and his National Honor Society kids as a fundraiser for TeacHaiti. I'll let him tell you all it about it, and I'll just say this: he did a great job, let the kids run the lion's share of the planning so they would learn how (believe me this is hard work- it is much easier to do the whole thing yourself), and kicked butt on the teachers' team.

Several big events coming up for us. Next week we will take the seniors on part one of their class trip, which will be a service weekend working with the Wesleyan Church on La Gonave, a small island in the bay of Haiti that is much more like rural Haiti in many ways (for instance, it is more conservative- all women are expected to wear long skirts instead of pants). The next week, we'll chaperone the second part, which is driving over the border to the DR. After that, we're chaperoning a school dance, writing and grading final exams, then graduation. And oh yeah, I'm directing a school play. It's about the Trojan War. We start rehearsing on Tuesday.



  1. Sounds like your school year is ending on a bang. Laughing about the corporate sponsors, kind of like live commercials.

  2. Wow, lots of fun things happening! There's nothing that I crave more after a hot basketball game, than a carton of eggnog. Ha! That's hilarious! Have fun on your upcoming trips and dance, and I must comment that I loved your use of the word cacophony! :)



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