Friday, April 17, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Student brings language, hope home to Haiti

UC Davis graduate student Carolina Tavárez teaches children at the Ann Prepare Lavni facility, she established to provide multilingual education for children in Anse-à-Pitres, Haiti. Alice Smeets, UC Davis/Courtesy photo

By
From page A1 | September 06, 2013 |

Thoughts of “back to school” take Carolina Tavárez to places more than 3,000 miles apart.

The UC Davis graduate remembers the humble Haitian village where just this summer she taught language classes to help eager children reach for a better future.

The 24-year-old looks ahead, too, to graduate studies at UCD this fall to help her expand the work of her foundation for multilingual education and someday make education more accessible for all Haitian children.

The daughter of Christian missionaries, as a youth she was exposed to some of the poorest areas of her native Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Haiti. She has returned to the region to make a difference in Anse-à-Pitres in southeast Haiti.

In Haiti, the literacy rate is about 50 percent. Education is underfunded, few families can afford to pay for private schooling and the use of French as the language of instruction creates yet another barrier for the overwhelming majority of children who speak Haitian Creole, a mixture of French and African languages.

“If they have access to education,” said Tavárez, who earned a degree in Spanish and education in June, “they will be able to prepare themselves and break the cycle of poverty.”

And she is helping make that happen: The foundation she started less than two years ago is named Ann Prepare Lavni, Haitian Creole for “Let us prepare the future.” It offers a free, daylong language school for three weeks in the summer and over the winter holidays; the rest of the year, it partners with another organization to provide after-school lessons.

This summer, on what was her third visit for the foundation, Tavárez took with her five university students: three from universities in Haiti and the Dominican Republic; a fellow UCD student; and her brother Jesus, who is studying at Chico State.

They taught classes of about 45 students in English and Spanish — important for its use in border market towns — and led the children in music, sports, and arts and crafts. Children received backpacks, books, school supplies and hygiene items donated through the foundation.

A few of the children walked up to five miles to take classes. “That touched my heart,” Tavárez said. And for children with physical challenges, the teachers went to their homes.

Three of Dieula Doiren’s 11 children participate in the program.

“Especially in Haiti, where education is so expensive and sometimes impossible for people like us, having APL in our town is a dream to many of us,” she said in Haitian Creole.

“My prayer is that my children will be able to finish high school and — why not — go to college,” Doiren said. “They can think of a better life, better than we can offer.”

Tavárez understands. When at age 13, she and her parents immigrated to the United States, she struggled with English. But with hard work, she graduated at age 16 from her Indianapolis high school and went on to earn associate’s degrees from Shasta College in Redding.

However, Tavárez didn’t have a big dream for what she could do in the world until she transferred to UCD to earn a bachelor’s degree. Pivotal was her participation in undergraduate research programs.

“Being able to have this access to research and all that higher education offers has changed me,” she said.

Tavárez was mentored through the McNair Scholars Program, which encourages and helps prepare undergraduates from historically underrepresented groups to pursue doctoral degrees. And small grants from the Provost’s Undergraduate Fellowship and the UCD Blum Center for Developing Economies helped support the research that gave birth to her foundation.

Tavárez is researching the uses and characteristics of a pidgin language developing in market towns on the borders Haiti and the Dominican Republic. She named it Kreñòl in recognition of how it mixes Spanish and Haitian Creole.

“Doing research taught me that it is never too early or too late to ask questions and seek answers,” she said. “I have also learned that it doesn’t matter if I am the only person working on this kind of research, because my contribution to my field will make an impact on the lives of many.”

Cecilia Colombi, professor and chair of the department of Spanish and Portuguese, was Tavárez’s adviser for her honors thesis. “She gives back a lot to the community. She’s very concerned about doing service,” Colombi said.

This spring, Tavárez was recognized with three UCD awards: the Mary Jeanne Gilhooly Award as the top graduating woman, the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research and the Outstanding Senior in the department of Spanish and Portuguese.

This month, she begins a graduate program in Latin American linguistics and literature. She wants to prepare to expand the Anse-à-Pitres model to other Haitian communities and contribute to the reform of Haiti’s educational system.

“I’m looking for answers. I won’t stop until I change the system,” said Tavárez, thinking of her students and their families in Haiti. “I know they’re depending on this.”

— UC Davis News Service

Comments

comments

Julia Ann Easley

.

News

Psychedelic rock posters recall 1960s concerts

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
UCD study: Crickets not enough to feed the world just yet

By Kathy Keatley Garvey | From Page: A1

It’ll be a perfect day for a picnic — and lots more

By Tanya Perez | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Turning a mess into olive oil success

By Dave Jones | From Page: A1 | Gallery

UCD expands emergency notification service

By Julia Ann Easley | From Page: A2

 
California vaccine bill stalls; will come back next week

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Cities: California water reduction order unrealistic, unfair

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Bob Dunning: Chasing criminals and water-wasters

By Bob Dunning | From Page: A2

Enjoy a chemistry bang on Picnic Day

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Start your Picnic Day with pancakes

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Local students to perform at fundraising concert

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
CA House hosts crepe breakfast

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Doxie Derby crowns the winning wiener

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Fundraiser benefits Ugandan women

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

See pups at Picnic Day

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
Davis poet will read his work at library

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Free blood pressure screenings offered

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4Comments are off for this post

 
Rotary Club hosts whisky tasting

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Ribs and Rotary benefits local charities

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Dodd plans fundraising barbecue in Davis

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Soroptimists set date for golf tourney

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Socks collected for homeless veterans

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Council will present environmental awards Tuesday

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

 
Invention and upcycling to be honored at Square Tomatoes Fair

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

 
Take a peek at Putah Creek on daylong tour

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Pence Gallery Garden Tour tickets on sale

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
UC Davis Circle K Club wins awards at district convention

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

Davis authors featured at writing conference in Stockton

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

 
Sign up soon for Davis history tour

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6 | Gallery

Campus firearms bill passes Senate committee

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

 
Emerson featured at photography program

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

Portuguese influence in Yolo County detailed

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

 
Concert and dance party celebrate KDRT’s 10 years on the air

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7 | Gallery

 
Survival skills to be taught at preserve

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9

.

Forum

The new one puts her foot down

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A8

It’s time to fight for California’s jobs

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

 
Future leaders give back

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
Know where your gift is going

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

Pipeline veto a good move

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
Artists offer heartfelt thanks

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

.

Sports

DHS boys drop another Delta League match

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Aggie women ready to host (win?) Big West golf tourney

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

New strength coach hopes to stem UCD football injury tide

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Herd has too much for Devil softballers

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

Les, AD Gould talk about the Aggie coach’s future

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

 
UCD roundup: Quintet of Aggie gymnasts honored for academics

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
River Cats fall to Las Vegas

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B12

 
Diamondbacks defeat Giants in 12 innings

By The Associated Press | From Page: B12 | Gallery

.

Features

DSF kicks off 10th anniversary celebration at the carousel

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: B5

 
Many summer enrichment opportunities available for students

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: B5

 
What’s happening

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: B5

.

Arts

‘True Story:’ In their dreams

By Derrick Bang | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
‘Once’ an unforgetable celebration of music, relationships

By Bev Sykes | From Page: A11 | Gallery

 
.

Business

Honda shows off new Civic at New York show

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
.

Obituaries

Ruth Rodenbeck Stumpf

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Robert Leigh Cordrey

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Comics: Friday, April 17, 2015

By Creator | From Page: B10