To the Editor:
For two weeks this summer, the Bar Harbor Congregational Church (UCC) Friends of Haiti Project hosted two top 11th-graders from Institution Univers in Ouanaminthe, Haiti: Richelsie Felix and Shenay-Love Mondestin. Throughout their stay, they enjoyed overflowing New England hospitality along with many opportunities to practice their English and explore life in the United States, both at work and at play.
I’d like to thank everyone who helped make their visit so meaningful and memorable. First, to the Hendricks family: Laura, Charlie and Julia, for hosting them with such love, warmth and grace.
To Donna Beals and the Mount Desert Campground for offering them the opportunity to volunteer at the Gathering Place; to Shannon Horton and the MDI YMCA for offering much-loved swim lessons; to the College of the Atlantic admissions office for their warm welcome; to Joan Furnari for the French-language interpreted hike in Acadia National Park; to Mimi DeVries for immersing them in science and introducing them to microscopes at Jackson Lab; to Serendipity (Barbara, Ruth and Jenny) and Food for All (Ralph, Criostoir, Bella and Chris) for welcoming their volunteer efforts.
I also want to give thanks to Cristy Benson for doing physics lessons and basket-making with them; to the Losquadro family for showing them the inner workings of hospitality at the Saltair Inn; to Stefanie Alley and Ashley Bryan for showing them island life (mail boats, lobster fishing, art, poetry and song); to Heather Dillon for their tour of MDI High School; to Kathy MacCullough for the tour of her farm; to Scott Riddell for working alongside them at the Bar Harbor Community Farm; to Sharon Grubb for teaching them about allied medical professions and the MDI Hospital Lab; to Paula Moody for taking them to the Famers’ Market and enlisting their help; and to Marti Torbeck for the inspiration to partner with Institution Univers and COCINA, and for hosting our farewell potluck.
Even when building relationships between islands and across cultures, it takes a village. Everyone was so welcoming and supportive. On behalf of the BHUCC Friends of Haiti Project, thank you all.
Rev. Rob Benson