Several Haitians I met recently shared with me the old joke that their country is the only one in the world that has a last name, as in “Haiti The Poorest Country In The Western Hemisphere.” Unquestionably, Haiti has seen- indeed, still sees- much struggle and poverty and devastation, but what motivates our work at Summits Education is less about the need as it is about the potential.
Recently, as we were driving up the winding roads of the Central Plateau, my Haitian colleague pointed to an expansive and dirty lake and declared, "Even that won't stop them from going to school." I nodded and laughed - in that way one does when pretending to understand. She continued, "Come here in the early hours of the morning, and you will see groups of boys swimming naked across this lake, to get to school." Having spent many years working with students in poor and rural settings, I had seen a lot of impressive makeshift school buses, but I had never heard of anything like this. I couldn’t help but ask the obvious question: where do they keep their clothes? My colleague replied: "They fold their uniforms up, wrap them in plastic bags and tie them to their heads while they swim across the lake, before getting dressed and climbing the steep hill to school."
It's this sense of grit and determination that inspires us. Imagine meeting those students on the other side of that lake with a school that offers a world class education. Our vision for a college-preparatory school in Haiti’s Central Plateau is being developed by a growing team of educators who recognize that quality education transforms countries. International aid alone cannot build lasting infrastructure. Ultimately, a country’s citizens are the only effective architects of a civil society. As part of our commitment to equip a generation of future leaders with the tools necessary to effect systemic change, our curriculum will emphasize both issues of social justice and opportunities for entrepreneurship. Summits Academy will accommodate up to 300 high-performing secondary students, through grades 7-12.
Regardless of what matters most to you - whether it is science, global health, economic development, or environmental conservation- education is the only force that can improve all aspects of society. There is a massive, untapped resource in Haiti that has the ability to write the country’s future: thousands of bright children who are eager for a chance to go to school and shape their own future. All they lack is a chance to go to a school worthy of their dreams and talents.
I am excited for what we can do together.