2011 haiti_utk publication

One to Another

A Downloadable Publication from the 2011 Haiti UTK Studio


WBIR Report of the Haiti Studio

Introduction haiti_utk

Welcome to the Haiti UTK site! The work on these pages reflects student engagement in design for both a school and housing for the community of Fonds des Bloncs, Haiti in collaboration with the Haiti Christian Development Fund. The project was initiated in the early fall of 2010 and subsequently a class of 19 students, in the spring of 2011, was given the responsibility of deisgning a secondary school. The school is under constuction. A new group of students is now hard at work developing new housing in Fonds des Blancs. The work of these students can be seen in the pages of this blog. Students of the class will be traveling to Haiti Februay 2-6 to collect addiional data. It is anticipated that this second phase of the project will be completed in late April with construction starting summer 2012. The work of the students is being guided by three primary faculty, John McRae, David Matthews, and Chris King, a local practictioner. The students during their exploration will engage a wide range of issues including context, culture, resources, climate and other outside factors not common to their expereince. 

Students: Cassidy Barnett, Aaron Brown, Sarah Heimermann, Mitzi Coker, Emily Corgan, Ben Cross, Peter Duke, Emily Fike, Sam Funari, Lauren Heile, Kendra McHaney, Lauren Metts, Morgan Oiler, Bernice Paez, Forrest Reynolds, Emily Ryan, James Sawyer, Zachary Smith, Robert Thew, Cory Wikerson Faculty: John McRae, Chris King, David Matthews

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Special Thanks!

The Haiti Studio for spring 2012 is being supported by HaitiServe foundation based in Knoxville Tennessee, that is focused on outreach and engagement in improving conditions in Haiti. 

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Entries in Diary (2)


Diary entry of Fond-des-Blancs

Dear Diary,

Today is February 2, and one of the coldest days I’ve experienced in New York this winter. As you know I am a civil engineer student studying at NYC University, and I plan to travel home to Fond des Blancs for our spring recess. I shall miss the city and its many amenities, but I look forward to the warm weather and the smiles of my family and people. Their strength and prosperity through these hard times after the earthquake have made me more determined to learn all I can in school, so I can return home and create stable homes for my people. Creating a functional community that will stand as the trademark for design is my true goal. So, I boarded the plane for home, I plan to study and sketch all of my experiences for my design. 

Dear Diary,

Today is February 3, and I have finally made it home and embraced all of the cultural transitions. The smell of charcoal burning fills the warm humid air. Seeing farm animals graze the lands is something that I have not missed living in New York.  But I have missed the great conversations of people gathering around the stream to wash their clothes. I do wish that my people had my stable systems of water and electricity, but this has never stopped them from conversing together at night. This is something I need to keep in mind for my community design. As the day sets I sit and watch the sun set behind the mountains, a warm glow fills the sky as the dark sky starts to set in. This is always the highlight of my day at home for time seems to slow down and the beauty of the country begins to show.

Dear Diary,

Today is February 4, and I have begun writing down things for my desired community in Fond des Blancs. I want to create a place that is organized, has amenities, and is catered to the culture of my people. I plan to make the pedestrian circulation priority and moving the car to the exterior. I also want to keep a lot of the natural trees for they create shade, food, and other gathering spaces. Making structural stable homes is very important for my people have feared living in concrete homes since the earthquake. With my education and connections with construction workers in Haiti, I feel I can make a community that everyone will enjoy and most of all feel safe in. 



Fond-des-Blancs Diaries 

The following are journal entries from two every different people living in Fond-des-Blancs, Haiti.


Dear Diary:                 07/13/2011

I woke up this morning with a good feeling about the day. You would think I would be used to waking up to roosters by now. I suppose it’s better than car horns, screaming children and the hustle of city life, but they never cease to startle me every morning. I love my new job. The school is very nice. The classrooms are much more simple than those I remember in Port-au-Prince. I think it makes for fewer distractions. I have been told some blan are coming to expand the classrooms and design a library for the kids. I think it will be wonderful to have a library.

I have known since I was a child that I wanted to be a teacher. I am only 17 though, and I’m not sure how well the children respect me. Mom would be so proud of me for moving away from the city. That was always her dream. I miss her today. I still can’t erase the memory of that fateful day…I don’t suppose I ever will forget.

I feel much safer in this town. Fond-des-Blancs has given me hope for a better way of life. I walk about 45 minutes to get to school. I have been told it is about 3 ½ miles. As I was walking this morning to school, I passed by a group of children gathered around a pipe coming out of the ground. They were gathering water…fresh water!

That is something I rarely had the privilege of having. We couldn’t afford it. The riverbeds were always dried up and the water that remained was very dirty. I sent my brother to fetch some water once school let out this afternoon. He is happy to do it. He is only 9, but he knows he still has some responsibilities. I try to let him be a kid as much as possible though. He has discovered his love of football, as many of the young boys have.

I am so thankful to have met that man that day in the city. No one has ever paid me any attention. God must have put him in my path that day. I must admit I was scared to move away from everything I knew in the city. I was skeptical of this job offer. I’m glad I came. Now my little brother has a chance to be part of a community. He has the chance to be a kid. I wish I had that chance, but I am so thankful I am where I am now.

I live with 6 other teachers. They have made me feel very welcome. They have even taken on my little brother as one of their own. We live in a 3 bedroom house. I share a room with Madeline and my brother. I don’t mind though. She is sweet and doesn’t mind sharing her space. She tells me that he reminds her of her little brother, but she rarely speaks of him. He stayed in the city with her parents. She came here the same way I did, and she is 19. She is like a sister to me. I could live her forever.               



Journal Entry: Life back in Haiti  07/13/2011

It is our first week back in Fond-des-Blancs. I have thought about this time in my life for a long time. I have always wanted to retire here, but never thought I would have it in me to come back. Being back here just for a few days has made me realize how many things I have taken for granted living in a big city…electricity, running water, being able to sleep in… I miss New York, but we are excited about retiring here. My wife was only 9 when she moved to the states. She doesn’t remember much about her life in Haiti. I was 19 when I moved. I grew up here in Fond-des-Blancs. It’s funny how you can remember so much after so long. I probably haven’t thought about my childhood in 5 or 6 years. And even then, it’s been almost 45 years since I have been here.

As my wife and I took a walk along to road to market, we passed a family leading 2 head of cattle. I remember what that was like. We knew that if we sold one, we would have enough money to live off of for a month or two.

Market has changed drastically since I have been here. There are people on motorcycles, people driving through the streets through the crowds of people, people with megaphones… I certainly didn’t expect to see any of these. One thing hasn’t changed though…women run the market place. Their whole family’s income for the week may come from just that one day in market. I could tell they needed the money, but they seemed happy nonetheless. We gathered what we needed, and some things that we didn’t, and had some help to carry it back to our house.

We are still waiting on a well to be dug behind our house so that we can have running water. Until then, we have a young boy to help us out with fetching water. Many of them do not know what it’s like to have water come to their homes, so they don’t know the difference. It would be too hard on us to gather water each day. We are also waiting on a satellite dish to be installed on our roof. We have only been away for a week, but we already dearly miss our grandkids. Having Internet will make my wife happy so she can see them and talk to them.

I do miss having glass windows. There’s a bunch of damn roosters that peck around outside our house and make a lot of noise, and the vent blocks make the walls seem like they aren’t even there. We do like getting up early, though. We love to get up and watch the sunrise over the mountains. We have watched the sun rise over the skyscrapers and layers and layers of buildings for 30+ years. Being back in the mountains is so calming. I look forward to the coming years.