Next week, I will be spending a week in Galette Chambon, a small village outside of Haiti’s capital city of Port-au-Prince. I first traveled to Haiti back in May of this past year with a small group of students and faculty from UA. Our goal on this trip was to help orient people in the community on computer and financial literacy skills to better their standard of living and hopefully get them thinking about potential small business ideas of their own.

This initiative sprung out of the Culverhouse LIFT (Learning Initiative and Financial Training) program here at UA, started by accounting faculty Lisa McKinney and graduate student David Hose. This program is designed to reach out to the Tuscaloosa and West Alabama communities and use University resources, both financial and human capital, to improve the job skills of the adult and teen populations.

They had the idea of expanding this program to an international level, and they thought of Haiti as the perfect location to try this. I am going on the trip again next week with a group of 24, mostly UA students who did not go with us back in May. I am extremely excited to go because we made a great foundation for this program on our scouting visit back in May, but this visit is going to be geared much more towards leadership and business skills in hopes of the Haitians taking this class to be able to apply principles and concepts to their own lives, personally and professionally.

Our curriculum is going to be focused on economics and basic business concepts, leadership and personality awareness, marketing, financial/budgeting, and operations, among many others. The week will progress with the class divided into small groups and developing/incubating real small business ideas.

The experience in May was absolutely amazing, but this time around we are looking to gain even more of an understanding of the Haitian culture. The challenge of overcoming a language barrier (Haitian Creole and French are the primary languages) and connecting in such a short period of time with a new group of people that are part of a completely different culture makes the experience that much more rewarding. Stay tuned for more updates as we travel to Haiti next week!