By Riya Shankar ’18

I have distinct memory of learning about the Haiti Partnership during my revisit day at St. Mark’s. Desmond Goodwin, who graduated 2 years ago spoke about her experience learning about Haitian culture and traveling to Haiti with the school. I remember thinking about how cool it sounded but I never thought that being a part of this partnership would impact me as profoundly as it did, and I certainly never thought I would be lucky enough to travel to our partner school twice and make friends at St. Marguerite’s that I still keep in touch with. The people we’ve met in Haiti have changed and inspired us and we hope that we’ve been able to share some of that with you. Our travels have showed us that our friends in Haiti are very grateful for this partnership and the opportunity to connect with us. I mean, how often do people you’ve never met change their wedding date to make sure you can come?! And that shows that, even though we were virtually strangers with everyone in Latournelle, after just a few short hours, we all felt like we are a part of something bigger, like we belonged. Our goal is to bring that feeling to everyone here at school because we are ALL part of this “something bigger.”

Whether someone has visited Haiti or not, all of us here at St. Mark’s have an amazing and unique partnership with people from another country, and our hope is to inspire one, some, even all of you to join the partnership. Join us in our learning, join us in our fundraising, join us in our work with St. Marguerite’s. It can be as simple as creating a positive atmosphere when we have a rice and beans lunch. I mean, how incredible is it that we are able to send them so much money by simply eating lunch? 

If you want to go next level, come join our partnership meetings and be part of the events we hold, such as the Independence Day Fair or Broadway Nights. It can be a way for you to find your own sense of leadership and creativity. And those of you who feel especially inspired, I urge you to go on this trip. I know it allowed each of us to grow in our interest in this partnership and also in our own opinions as global citizens. For me personally, this trip helped me find my place at St. Mark’s and even after I graduate, I know I will always carry this partnership with me far beyond St. Mark’s. I hope this talk and our stories have inspired you to find your own place in our partnership because we can’t wait for what’s to come.  Thank you.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Rice and Beans

By Grant Gattuso ’19

One of my most memorable moments from the Haiti trip took place in the principal’s office at St. Marguerite’s.  We had all just finished lunch when Emmanuel, Père Reginald, and Maurice, the school’s principal, all walked in. As soon as they walked in, we could tell that something important was happening.  Père Reginald leaned down, putting his hands on the table with an unsure but sad look on his face. He turned to Ms. McColloch and Ms. Morgan and said “We do not have enough money for this past year.”  We were all shocked and confused. After just a few days in Haiti, we knew how important every last dollar was to our partners, and to hear that we did not bring enough was heartbreaking.  Père Reginald told us that we were about $1,000 short of paying for the teachers salaries for 2017.  Keep in mind we were there in 2018.


Having already realized how much more we have back here at St. Mark’s, it was hard not to feel guilty hearing this. We know as a school how hard our teachers work. They deserve every cent that they earn if not more, and these Haitian teachers are no different.  Imagine if we were still trying to pay our teachers for 2017, without even thinking about 2018 yet. That would be unjust to their efforts.

Following this conversation, we, the students, spent the next few hours brainstorming different ways that we could make sure that this never happened again.  We have some ideas, but some of them are easier to implement than others. When Père Reginald was speaking with us, Ms. McColloch tried to explain that we had given all we could, which was true from the school point of view.  However, the same might not necessarily true for the student body. We can all contribute quite easily actually.  It is something that the Haiti Partnership program seems to be infamous for… more rice and beans lunches. We know, for some, the rice and beans seem like a punishment, but I think it is all about the attitude towards them.  Every time we have a rice and beans lunch we are able to give over $800 to St. Marguerite’s. That means that we could have almost completely avoided the situation with just one more rice and beans lunch. All you have to do to be a part of this is simply eat lunch.  It is not difficult, and it does not take any extra effort. Have the attitude that it is a school wide community service moment, a way that you can get involved with St. Marguerite’s, and, I believe, everyone will find the whole experience much more enjoyable.  After my experience in Haiti, it is clear that every single one of the students, faculty, and members of the community appreciate our work to help them.  Your one rice and beans meal is directly helping St. Marguerite’s and every member of it. Our goal is to makes sure that never again will a group be sent to Haiti without the necessary resources.  Please help us in participating in the rice and beans meals, and you might in fact find a new favorite meal. I did!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


By Haley Dion ’19

I am very grateful that I was able to visit our friends in Haiti this year! It was truly an amazing experience, however there were a few challenges, such as the language barrier. As some of you may know, Haiti was originally a French colony, which is why the official languages are Creole and French. A few of us who went on the trip knew some French and Creole, however many did not. I was one of the lucky students who was able to take the Introduction to Haitian Creole class this fall, so I knew how to have a fairly basic conversation. This was helpful in learning a little about all the children because I was able to ask them how they were, what their name was, and how old they were. Although it was challenging to have conversations with the community, it did not stop us from communicating. Instead, we used different forms of communication to connect. We shared songs, danced, and played games.

One of the games we played with the children was one that involved hand slapping, where one player with their palms facing up tries to slap the top of the hands of the other player before they are pulled away.  Although simple, this game could entertain all of us for a very long time.

Another way we connected with the community was through dancing. On our last night in Latournelle, we had a little dance party outside with them. While the music was playing, everyone was dancing and teaching us their “moves”. It was fun to be able to share our dance moves with the children and to be taught some of their favorites. These small yet impactful interactions are what I cherish the most from my trip to Haiti. I still remember some of the games, dances, and songs that the children taught me, and I know I will never forget them.

Although I would have loved to be able to have more conversations with the Latournelle community, in a way, I am thankful for the language barrier because it compelled us to connect with them in unique ways. This trip helped me realize the importance of communication. No matter what form, whether it be by singing or playing games, it is extremely valuable to be able to share ideas and information with others. I am thankful for my opportunity to have traveled to Haiti because it not only taught me so much, it allowed me to build relationships with people I never thought I would have the chance to meet.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


By Sophie Haugen ’18

When we first arrived in Latournelle, everyone greeted us and welcomed us immediately to their homes. We first started playing with kids, trying to settle into the rhythm of a busy Saturday afternoon in the village, and we had to adjust to not having any sense of time or schedule. After a little while, we heard that there would be a wedding that afternoon. We just thought, “that’s nice” and some of us kids at least didn’t really pay much attention to everything going on at first. We assumed that we would not be attending the wedding because, well, we didn’t know the couple and we had just arrived in Latournelle. After Ms. McColloch spoke to some people about it, we soon learned that the wedding had been scheduled for a different day, but they actually rescheduled it for that afternoon so that WE could attend it!


Coming from here, where we don’t tend to rearrange extremely important days for strangers, I was excited and surprised to hear this. We went to the wedding that day and it was so fascinating to experience. The wedding party involved so many children, a prince and princess, a king and queen, and a full procession before the bride and groom even entered the church. Each person had a color-coordinated outfit for their role in the procession and every moment was filled with intricate dance. We felt an enormous amount of hospitality in Haiti in every place we went. We entered living spaces, classrooms, kitchens, and churches, and received nothing but welcoming and loving kindness from everyone. The wedding was just one example of this. We went to church the next morning at the same church in Latournelle with many of the same people who attended the wedding. Church is a big deal and an amazing time for everyone to come together. Kids wear fancy dresses and suits, style their hair, and celebrate the day. We went to church and felt like part of the village, and I feel incredibly lucky for that. Returning from Haiti and reflecting on my experiences caused me to think about how to connect more with people. Despite language barriers, despite not having scheduled gatherings or plans, I have never felt more connected with people, on a very fundamental level, than in Haiti. This applies to us as a whole community at St. Mark’s, us as a partnership with St. Marguerite’s, and as people in this world. Buying one chocolate bar for our fundraiser, making a card at the Independence Day Fair, or anything else means so much to the people at St. Marguerite’s. Whether you are officially part of our partnership or not, finding ways to connect with people here and around the world to be part of something bigger than yourself is the most important aspect. It is something that I learned in Haiti and will carry with me forever.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


By Sada Nichols-Worley ’18


After reaching Latournelle atop the mountain, we were told that the toilets didn’t flush themselves. Rather, we had to manually flush them by pouring water from huge buckets into the toilet bowls. I really struggled the first time doing that, but once I figured it out I still had it in my head that I was roughing it just because I couldn’t flush a toilet on command. We soon found out that not only did most people living in Latournelle not have access to any toilets at all, but they actually carried those huge buckets of water that we used to flush the toilets up the mountain for us. One day, we hiked a short way down the mountain to see the water source that the flushing-water came from. People used this water source for bathing, cooking, and drinking, too. The dirt path leading to the water source was narrow and in many places extremely steep. We had to inch our way down the pathway while kids sprinted past us carrying full buckets of water, singing as they went along.

The water source itself was pretty simple; it looked like a little stream trickling out of a tap in the mountain. But this water source was a necessity for the people in Latournelle, and no matter the conditions, someone would always have to get water. It was hard enough for me to carry up a small bucket of water in daytime in completely dry conditions. I couldn’t imagine trying to carry a massive bucket on my head, or walking down the path at all when it’s raining. One memory that really resonated with me was seeing a young boy, younger than me and the same age as many boys at St. Marguerite’s, hauling a bucket of water up from the water source while other boys were at school. Having access to water and the ability to get an education are two things that I’ve definitely always taken for granted. After seeing how hard people have to work and the time they have to sacrifice to get water up the mountain, we all stopped complaining about flushing the toilets and worked to use as little water as possible. Seeing things like the water source in Haiti made me feel guilty at first — that I had amenities and comfort that others didn’t. But feeling badly, I realized, wasn’t going to help anyone, so instead I adopted the mindset that I should always be appreciative and aware of how fortunate my circumstances are.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


By Payton Kober ’20

When we were in Haiti, we were able to film short video of from our partner school, St. Marguerite’s, singing Sun Of My Soul in French. Sun of my Soul is a song that the students at St. Marguerite’s sing at church as well as our school hymn here at St. Mark’s School.   When we visited St. Marguerite’s in January, 2018 the St. Marguerite’s students sang to us and we returned the favor by singing Sun of My Soul back to them in English. This small act was a chance for us as schools to connect beyond the partnership, allowing us as two separate schools to come together as one and connect using something that both of our schools share.


One of the big problems I faced throughout the trip was the language barrier which made it challenging to connect to the students of St. Marguerite’s.  They speak Creole, we speak English, but through singing a song we found a way to break the language barrier and make a connection beyond the Partnership. Not only did I feel the impact of such a simple act, but I know the students at St. Marguerite’s felt it as well as the entire group from St. Mark’s.  From this experience I have discovered how music is a universal way of communication and can connect people no matter the reason for separation.

*In the weeks leading up to Broadway Nights (May 4 and 5) we look forward to sharing short reflections from our 2018 trip to Latournelle, Haiti.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Fight for Women’s Rights in Haiti

We loved reading this essay from Bannon about women’s rights in Haiti written for our St. Mark’s Global Seminar course!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

#smforsm blog

St. Marguerite’s Partnership Blog

Welcome to the St. Marguerite’s Partnership Blog! This blog will be updated throughout the year with the Partnership’s latest events, ideas, and news! Please click here to learn more about who we are and what we do.  Thanks for visiting and don’t forget to subscribe!


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Haiti Trip Daily Digest: Day Six

By Henry Hirschfeld, VI Form

I woke up in the Hotel Oloffson to crowing roosters, honking cars, and shouting pedestrians. I slept better than I had any other night of the trip (perhaps because of the plantains and goat from lunch which filled my belly), yet I knew that the next day would be full of emotions. With a 6:30am estimated time of departure, getting the group to meander down to the cars was a struggle. Contrary to every other day on the trip, and although it was the first morning that Père Reginald retrieved us exactly on time, we had no enthusiasm for this final road trip. Kerrie and Cricket, who had been giggling balls of energy the trip, were somber and quiet. I’ve always had a driven, goal-oriented personality, and I hate leaving something undone. When the plane sailed off the Port-Au-Prince ground, however, I was overcome with the feeling that I was doing something wrong, that I left something unfinished. I felt guilt for leaving so soon, anger at how easy it was for me to go back, worry about returning to school, and sadness for leaving the friends that I made. I watched as the dry hills spotted with glimmering tin roofs, each a home for another family, melted from my vision. I told myself that I had to come back.

I was made to come back. I made a bet with Ms. Lohwater to see if one security guard or flight attendant would notice that it was my birthday, which of course none of them did. I tried to stay afloat and upbeat as we meandered through lines, escalators, and airport gates in Fort Lauderdale, but I couldn’t hold back tears of overwhelming defeat and frustration as I watched overweight, retired, sunburned Floridians eat hamburgers at the airport bar. When my mother texted me to wish me a happy birthday, I was bitterly and angrily writing in my journal about how much this world needed to change, and, now that I was an adult, how I was planning on changing the tiny world that I inhabited in order to be a servant of the oppressed. I wondered: eighteen years ago today, what were my parents thinking? What subconscious ideas and expectations did they have for me when I turned eighteen? They wanted me to be comfortable, they wanted me to be happy, they wanted me to have everything in the world I could possibly have. A Latournelle mother would want just the same. Well, thanks to my mother, my father, my home, and the unbelievably random cards that were dealt to me, I had it all. I realized, sitting in Gate F10 of Fort Lauderdale Airport that dedicating my life to service included being grateful for those dumb, worthless, yet paramount cards that I was dealt. “Lives of service depend on lives of support,” says Paul Farmer. My relationships, my family, my background, this special group I got to travel with, are a gift to be grateful for, not to feel guilty about. Privilege gives me the means to serve.

The flight attendant on flight 2070 did recognize my birthday, thanks to Ms. Lohwater, and announced it on the intercom just before landing at Logan. Boston was a literal cold awakening, especially with our sandals scraping across the pick-up lane to meet Ms. McColloch in the minibus. Hearing her bright voice welcomed us home.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Haiti Trip Daily Digest: Day Five

By Cricket Dotson, V Form

Today we woke up and had a breakfast of plantains, toast, peanut butter, and an assortment of juices. We could already feel the sun’s hot rays as we brought our bags outside of the house. It was a peaceful morning. I braided Elise, Lindsey, and Kerrie’s hair. We could hear the occasional motorcycle zooming by playing joyful music and see the children filing into their morning classes in their crisp and startlingly clean uniforms. We could hear the gentle murmur of the children talking in their classrooms and the banter between Mimi and (I forget her name) as they cleaned our dishes from that morning. A few of the older school kids, who were our age, were lounging on the swing set in the driveway, chatting and laughing. Elise, Lindsey, Henry, and Mr. Umiker were sitting in the cool shade, relaxing and reading. After I finished braiding Kerrie’s hair, she went over to Will Stack and Jack, who were playing cards, and joined their game. Will Allen was sitting in the school yard, soaking in the sounds of the school day– children laughing, singing, birds chirping in the classroom. A few brave little ones walked up to him, staring at him in curiosity. They introduced themselves and sat next to him. It only took a second for them to become comfortable enough to start playing games with him. They brought with them a dirty rubber ball, which they tossed around. Their eyes lit up and they started to laugh out of pure innocence and delight with the simple game. To me, the children in Haiti were extraordinarily different from the children in America. The Haitian children were thrilled to make a new friend in Will. They would laugh at the simplest things– a rubber ball, a hand game, us, anything. We never saw a Haitian child complain to their parents or throw a tantrum when they saw that someone else had something that they wanted. American children, however, usually throw many tantrums when something does not go their way. Haitian children would not hesitate to hold each other’s hand, or walk up to us and hold our hands, jump on our backs, or pull on our arms. It was in the cultural norms of the Haitian children to touch other people as a sign of affection. In America, that is something that you do not usually see children do. Some girls may hold hands with their best friends, but other than that, touching is not a normal thing to do–there is a barrier. I was continuously astonished by the difference between the Haitian children and American children. Jack, Kerrie, and Will Stack went over to join in the fun that Will Allen was having with the kids. The sun continued to creep up higher and higher in the sky, and it got hotter and hotter as we continued to wait for the cars to take us to Port-Au-Prince. We heard the horn of the van outside the gates of Pere Reginald’s house. It was Charlie, the national police officer coming to pick us up. We loaded up our things into the car. The Wills, Jack, and Kerrie tore themselves away from the children’s shining faces. I handed over the letter that we all wrote to Steven and Jetsen, some of our favorite children in the neighborhood, to Pere Reginald. Just before I head into the car, I caught a glimpse of the drawings that Steven and I drew together the night before in the coating of dust on the car–balloons, leaves, and faces. My heart already ached with the thought that I would not be seeing the children for a long time.

The car was air conditioned and cold as we drove through the rugged roads of the neighborhood. Elise’s knuckles were white as she concentrated every fiber of her being on following the car in front of us at all costs. We watched quietly as we rolled past women carrying enormous amounts of goods on their heads, lambs tied to dilapidated goals, scrawny dogs scavenging for food among the rubble that cluttered the sides of the roads, men lounging outside their houses listening to music, and children in their uniforms walking to school holding hands. As we neared Port-Au-Prince our surroundings changed, we saw beautifully painted tap-tap’s full of people chatting zoom past us, motorcycles weaving in and out of the stream of vehicles in the road, old school busses from Florida being used to transport supplies, people walking through traffic with things on their head which they were trying to sell, people sitting under the shade of tattered beach umbrellas on the sidewalk, tables of clothes for sale, stacks of tires for sale, and so many other things. Eventually, the car pulled over, and we got out to have a bite to eat.

The restaurant was quiet, as it was already mid-afternoon. A few people sat around a small table, chatting casually. We seated ourselves in the corner, next to the window. The kids sat at one table, the adults sat at another. A waitress handed out menus to everybody. The menus were all in French. Only one person at our table spoke French, Will Stack. He had to translate the entire menu to us multiple times. He had become accustomed to being the translator for the kids at this point. While we waited for our food to come, we played some cards. They fluttered a bit as the ceiling fans whirled above our heads. A few people passing by outside stared at us, which we had also become accustomed to, because we stuck out like sore thumbs. One man, holding an assortment of artwork stared at us, trying to get our attention. He wanted us to buy his artwork, however we couldn’t. He continued to stare at us intently, eventually losing hope, and walking away.

Every meal had fried plantains with it, along with a type of salad which resembled spicy cole slaw, which reminded me of New Orleans. The food was delicious. Kerrie and I ordered pineapple juice, which was fresh and homemade. We both loved the sweet cool taste of the juice, which went well with the spicy salad. When we were finished eating, we filed back into the car. Steven and I’s balloon drawings were already fading.

The drive from the restaurant to the hotel was pretty short. Our eyes opened wide as we pulled up to the hotel. An extravagant staircase led up to a beautiful porch filled with little round dining tables. The porch wrapped all the way around the hotel. From the porch we had a stunning view of the thousands of colorful buildings packed together, with steep mountains watching over them. A few palm trees cast shade on the pebbled driveway. Next to the hotel was a gazebo shaped structure, which is where we checked in. Lining the pathway to the gazebo were fascinating voodoo statues. They were composed of things which we would think of as junk, but when put together, they were something beautiful. Inside of the hotel, there was a large face of rock which was covered in a vibrant mural. There were many things painted in the mural most of which were women walking with baskets on their heads.

We dropped our things off in our rooms. There was one room for the boys, one room for Kerrie and I, and one room for Elise and Lindsey. My room was very light and airy, painted white with two doors leading to the porch outside. There was a toilet which flushed, a faucet with running water, and a shower; all of which seemed unreal to me. I found myself shocked at how much treated clean water there was, as accessible as simply turning the faucet. It was overwhelming to be surrounded by all of that clean water. The boys’ room was larger, and just as bright, with lots of late afternoon sun filtering through the porch glass doors. Their porch was extensive, with a bed (covered with a bug net), a card table, and chairs for lounging.

After exploring each other’s rooms, we filed back into the car and headed to one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Haiti to give our shot at some bargaining. We hopped out of the car at a street crammed with vendors, lots of lively chatter, and people milling around the tables. All of the art was cheery and colorful, just like the streets and cars in Haiti. Kerrie and I were glued together, as people came up to us, rapidly talking up their artwork and naming prices. All of the vendors spoke very good English, which made the bargaining easier. However, Kerrie and I struggled with bringing prices down because we wanted to give everybody every penny we had. We ended up not bringing prices down that much on purpose, because we did not have the heart to slim the prices down too much. We were perfectly fine with buying an overpriced piece of art from the Haitians. The others in the group did not share the same state of mind however. Will Stack stuck out as a relentless bargainer, which I was really impressed with. He was not phased by the large amounts of people coming up to him and persistently trying to get him interested in the art. He managed to get some prices down almost $50 dollars from the original price! At some points, Kerrie and I went to him and Will Allen for their bargaining skills. When we finished our shopping experience, with our arms full of art, we marched back to the car. The sun’s last rays were touching the almost completely faded finger drawings of balloons on our car from the night before.

We ate dinner at the hotel that night with Reginald and many police officers. We sat at the table for more than 2 hours, just enjoying each other’s company and conversation. The conversation never ceased. I loved learning all about everybody’s lives and pasts. After dinner, we retreated to our rooms. After a few minutes, Kerrie and I went over to the boy’s porch. We all laid on the screened bed, joking around, half asleep, and taking videos. Henry gave his birthday cake to Kerrie and I, which we were most happy about. Even though Kerrie and I wanted to sleep on the porch that night, the boys had claimed it as their own, so we went back to our room around midnight. We wanted to eat that birthday cake though, so we went down to the deserted dining room and found a couple forks to use. Kerrie and I ate the cake and reflected on the trip in our room. We were both heartbroken by the thought that we would be leaving in a few hours. We tried not to think about it as we joked the night away.

We went to sleep that night to the sound of crickets chirping outside the porch, and some Haitian music playing on a radio on the street next to the hotel. It was an amazing day. Every day in Haiti had felt like a lifetime. Each day I became closer with everyone in the group, which made the trip even more of an incredible experience. Everyday, my perspective of the world broadened, empathy expanded, and heart swelled. I have never laughed more in my life. It seemed as though every other sentence, I would toss my head back in carefree laughter. If I could capture the trip, or even one moment I experienced, in words, then a little of the Haiti magic could touch those who were not fortunate enough to have this experience. I hope that a little of that magic has been captured here.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment