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Sharing Haiti's Historical and Cultural Heritage at Harvard Kennedy School

Updated: Mar 4, 2023

Thursday March 2, 2023, I was invited by Marc Alain Boucicault to speak with his Master's in Public Administration (MCMPA) class at the prestigious Harvard Kennedy School. Needless to say, I was nervous. Only having ten minutes to present about Haiti, at one of the most prestigious institutions in the world, alongside an accomplished colleague, Etzer Emile, was a daunting task. I knew that Marc Alain's classmates were diverse and high-profile individuals, and I wanted to make a lasting impact with my presentation.

I brainstormed with some friends and finally decided that the best approach was to talk about Haiti's historical and cultural heritage. With February being Black History Month, I made a link between the Haitian Revolution and the larger narrative of black history. Haiti's revolution inspired other anti-colonial struggles around the world, like in South America, where Simon Bolivar and other leaders sought to emulate the Haitian example. Additionally, Haiti provided support to other nations fighting for their independence, such as Venezuela, Colombia, and Ecuador. Throughout the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, Black intellectuals used the history of Haiti as a guidepost to freedom, and the Haitian Revolution influenced rebellions, oratory, literature, and art. The events of the revolution shaped a Pan-African identity that influenced the thinking of leaders in the Civil Rights Movement and the Black Power Movement.

This slide has a typo. The correct period is 1791-1804

Then I talked about Haiti's rich cultural heritage, including Haitian cuisine, music and dance, art, and literature. I shared some of the unique aspects of Haitian culture, including the country's vibrant art scene, its rich musical tradition, and its world-famous cuisine.

I ended my presentation with some beautiful pictures of Haiti's monuments, landscapes, beaches, mountains, and people. I wanted to show the audience that Haiti is not just a country of poverty and struggle but is also a country of resilience, beauty, and hope.

Despite my nerves, I was pleased with how the presentation went. The MCMPA cohort was engaged and asked insightful questions, and I could tell that they were genuinely interested in learning more about Haiti's cultural heritage. I was grateful for the opportunity to share my passion and knowledge with such a talented and engaged audience.

Overall, the experience of speaking at Harvard was a humbling and rewarding one. It was an opportunity to showcase Haiti's rich cultural heritage and to share my passion for my country with a diverse and influential audience. I am grateful to Marc Alain for the invitation and to Etzer Emile for his support during the presentation. Most importantly, I hope that my presentation inspired the Harvard Kennedy School MCMPA cohort to continue to explore and appreciate the beauty and complexity of Haiti's cultural heritage.

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