Haitian Student Offers Practical Solutions at Panel Discussion

On January 28, 2010, panelists gathered to discuss,  “HAITI: Perspectives on Crisis” in the Red Gym’s On Wisconsin room.

Gergens Polynice, an M.A. candidate in Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian Studies (LACIS), who was in his home country of Haiti until just a few hours before the earthquake, spoke to the full audience. “A practical way we all can help is by supporting UW’s leadership to build a sustainable project, like a clinic, in Haiti,” Polynice said.

SLIDESHOW: ” “HAITI: Perspectives on Crisis” – January 28, 2010 Panel Discussion

Video to come.

Learn More about the Panelists
Brenda Plummer (History, Afro-American Studies) is an historian whose research includes race and gender, international relations, and civil rights. Her work ranges from essays on Haitian-American relations to studies of Afro-Americans, race, and foreign affairs.

“Haiti’s poverty is not a natural consequence of the environment or circumstances, but is a constructed reality by domestic elites and foreign adversaries,” she told the audience.

Aliko Songolo (French and Italian, African Languages, and Literature) is a specialist in African and Caribbean literature in French; 20th-century poetry; francophone literature; and cultural studies.

“I learned of another Haiti from authors and through my teachers than the one from stereotypes in the United States and [Europe],” Songolo said. “It is largely a positive story.”

Paul Thompson (InterWorks, LLC) has more than 30 years of experience in post-disaster reconstruction and recovery, disaster and refugee emergency management training, and program development and evaluation.

Thompson forecasts that this earthquake will be as influential to Haiti as 9/11 was to the U.S.

The panel was moderated by Alberto Vargas, associate director of LACIS.

Featured left to right: Alberto Vargas, Paul Thompson, Gergens Polynice, Aliko Songolo, and Brenda Plummer
Featured left to right: Alberto Vargas, Paul Thompson, Gergens Polynice, Aliko Songolo, and Brenda Plummer

To learn more about Haiti, check out the upcoming film series at Memorial Library.

The event was sponsored by the Center for Interdisciplinary French Studies; Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian Studies; the General Library System; and the Division of International Studies.