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Community Forum Part of NSU's Effort to Assist Haiti

(TAHLEQUAH) - OK--Northeastern State University will present a community forum, “Understanding Haiti,” on Jan. 27 at 5 p.m. in the University Center Redbud Room. The event, which is free and open to the public, will focus on building knowledge of Haiti—past and present.

NSU President Don Betz said assistance to Haiti can be enhanced by an understanding of the circumstances and challenges the nation faces.

"Unfortunately, this is not the first time in history that the Haitians have been so challenged," Betz said. "Be it earthquake or corruption or flood, there have been a number of circumstances which have really made it difficult for the Haitian people to live the kind of lives that any of us would call decent or ordinary or normal."

Panel experts will share knowledge of Haitian culture and government, Haitian school systems and the processes for recovery from the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that struck the nation Jan. 12.

Betz will facilitate discussion, which includes:

  • A history of Haiti: A general overview of Haiti’s heritage, government, education and health systems and Haitian culture, presented by Amberdawn Moore, instructor of Social Work in the College of Liberal Arts.
  • Perspective from global servers in Haiti: A personal experience with participating in global service in Haiti, presented by Tom Tucker, director of NSU's Campus Christian Fellowship chapter.
  • Call to action: Learn how to become part of sustaining solutions for the betterment of Haiti.

Tucker has visited Haiti several times to feed, educate, and support Haitian children. He has made these trips through CCF and area ministries, often accompanied by NSU student volunteers. His son Dan works with the Northwest Haiti Christian Mission.

"We will address some of the work we've done there and tell about our connection with Haiti," Tucker said. "Dan calls it a 'fourth world' country, because you can work all day long and still not have enough to eat."

NSU students also are launching initiatives to aid the relief effort.

Glen Evans, president of the Northeastern Student Government Association, said student organizations hope to raise $6,000 for the relief effort.

"Students are really excited about getting involved," he said. "Student organizations across the board are coming up with fundraising ideas and I think some people may be surprised by what we can do."

Students and staff of Residence Life are hosting "A Helping Hand for Haiti." Residence Life staff have secured 100 mason jars which students decorated and labeled with the program name. During the week of Jan. 25-29, students are taking the jars with them everywhere—class, the Tahlequah community, businesses, and elsewhere to ask donations be placed in the jars. The goal is to fill all 100 jars with money.

Criminal Justice & Legal Studies faculty and students are assisting Feed the Children’s Haiti Relief Fund. CJ&LS started asking donations in the University Center lobby on Jan. 22, and continue Jan. 25-26 from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Northeastern Student Government Association is coordinating sales of NSU Haiti Relief 2010 T-shirts. Sale of the shirts began Jan. 25 and proceeds go to toward Haiti relief efforts.

Other upcoming activities planned by students include an intramural sports tournament fundraiser and the sale of NSU Haiti Relief wristbands.

"I'm really glad there is so much interest among students who want to help," Evans said. "Haiti is a global issue and people across the world are getting involved and I'm happy to see people at my school making that same kind of effort."

All campus-wide media are being used to provide information to students about the situation in Haiti and how they can help, including electronic communication via e-mail, Web sites and Facebook, display boards, information packets, posters and stories in The Northeastern newspaper.

The "Understanding Haiti" forum is only one part of campus efforts to enhance knowledge and understanding of Haiti's history and economic, social and political conditions. Additional education sessions will be offered throughout the year.

NSU also hopes to provide long-term assistance to Haiti. The university aspires to host service trips to Haiti for faculty and students beginning this summer.

“Through careful observation and planning, we hope to build relationships with Haitian institutions that will not only provide relief for their current circumstances, but also provide us long-term collaborative opportunities with healthy cultural and educational exchanges,” Betz said.

For more information about campus-wide efforts and fundraising efforts, visit

Published: 2/1/2010 7:15:28 AM

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