Anseye Pou Ayiti (Teach for Haiti) is one of the boldest initiatives to launch on behalf of Haiti’s educational system. Founded by Nedgine Paul—an educator—the organization aims to transform classrooms in Haiti through the reprogramming of educators.
Above: Nedgine Paul, founder of Anseye Pou Ayiti.
By its fifth year of existence, APA estimates it will serve 16,000 students from Haiti’s most underserved cities, and will have had about 250 teachers go through its mindset changing, two-year fellowship program.
Nedgine Paul figured on Forbes magazine’s 30 Under 30 List, and got the attention of pop star John Legend, who lent his name and voice in support of the organization.
Care to know even more about Anseye Pou Ayiti and its founder? Read some more!
Kreyolicious: You grew up in Connecticut. What was that like? Were you close to the Haitian community?
I feel so grateful and privileged to have been born in Haiti, then spend most of my childhood and adolescence in the Haitian community of Norwalk-Stamford, Connecticut. My father was the Episcopal priest leading a Haitian congregation in Stamford, and that opportunity introduced me to the beauty, strength, and power of the Haitian diaspora community. I was able to play an active role in leading youth programs, tutoring, and student enrichment activities in the Haitian community, including the annual Quisqueya Summer Camp for several years. I was very close to the Haitian community, and I believe that gave me an even stronger desire to stay connected with my native Haiti.
Kreyolicious: At the core of Anseye Pou Ayiti is education…We know there is no education without competent teachers and other educators…Who was the teacher who inspired you the most in life?
This is such an important question to me personally, because several teachers have been role models. I have to name two: Madame Salomon, my fourth grade teacher. She is a Haitian educator who taught in a French language immersion program in Maryland where I was enrolled after moving from Haiti. She loved her country, heritage, and culture – and I was privileged to see a model for that, beyond my parents, at a young age. I will also always appreciate Mme Salomon’s emphasis on excellence, effort, and integrity. I continue to push for excellence and strong character in all that I do with students and education efforts.
I also have to name Professor Lillian Guerra, an incredible history professor during my undergraduate years at Yale University. She is an expert historian who focuses on the Caribbean and Latin America. She inspired and encouraged me to immerse myself in the history and truth of Haiti, including grounding my passion for education reform in researching the history of education in Haiti.
Kreyolicious: What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment since starting Anseye Pou Ayiti?
I feel my biggest accomplishment has been the opportunity to be a connector with young Haitians in Haiti and the diaspora who believe deeply in the possibility of education equity and a new approach to community leadership in Haiti – and who have shared that Anseye Pou Ayiti is reminding them or reigniting their dream to get involved. I am so grateful that Anseye Pou Ayiti is bringing together people who believe that a new narrative of our beloved Haiti is possible, for Haitians and by Haitians, especially when we join forces to invest in what matters most.
Kreyolicious:What do your folks have to say about their little Nedgine being the head and founder of such an organization and initiative?
They are so incredibly supportive. I could not be more grateful for parents who instilled a deep love and pride of nation, culture, and community in their children, and it has been such a journey for them to see how that has evolved into my role as co-founder of Anseye Pou Ayiti. I thank my parents every chance I get, because I absolutely credit them for teaching me the power of faith, respect, hard work, and community – all of which are woven into my core values today and my leadership.
Kreyolicious:When you’re a leader, people don’t imagine that there are times when you might lack motivation,or that you might have moments of discouragement. How do you handle moments like those?
Faith is number one for me. I wouldn’t and couldn’t have come this far – and hopefully keep moving in the right direction – without having my faith at the center of it all. I am also so grateful for my family, who are always there for support, advice, or even a listening ear whenever needed and even from a distance. I think it’s important to surround ourselves with people who believe in change, who believe we can push against the status quo even during the dark moments. Even having one or two people who believe that in your circle – it makes all the difference. I have to say there is power in joy and laughter too – because this work is so difficult, we have to take some time with people who care and can remind us to celebrate even the mini successes!
Kreyolicious: So, you have a a B.A. in History from Yale College and an Ed.M. in International Education Policy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Being that you’re practically running a non-profit and you’re a social entrepreneur…would you have done things differently if you had known that this was where life would take you?
No. I wouldn’t have done things differently because I believe my path was not by coincidence. I am so grateful and humbled by the privilege of my experience. It has introduced me to ideas, people, and opportunities that have deepened my belief in and passion for social justice. I would not be the person I am today – what I do and how I do it – without the mix of my experiences.
This concludes PART ONE OF THE INTERVIEW WITH NEDGINE PAUL OF ANSEYE POU AYITI. CHECK OUT PART II…MEANWHILE…