Anseye Pou Ayiti founder Nedgine Paul wants to achieve the most formidable feat yet as an educator—that of renovating Haiti’s educational system. Named a “Woman of the Year” by Challenge News, the Haiti-born and Connecticut-raised social entrepreneur is working with educators from the most remote areas of Haiti.
Her goal? To transform them into change agents for the 16,000 students she hopes to reach in the next five years.
Through a fellowship offered by her organization, she retrains teachers for a two-year period. The leadership skills they acquire through Anseye Pou Ayiti makes it possible for them to go back to their hometowns and apply excellence-focused programs at the elementary level.
In Part One of the interview, the focus was the background of Anseye Pou Ayiti. Now, we’ve moved the conversation to make it about Nedgine Paul, the person behind the social movement.
Kreyolicious: Is there anything that you used to be lousy at that you’ve gotten better at?
I have struggled with communicating big goals and expectations beyond my immediate circle of family and friends. Being very honest about those things often involve a lot of vulnerability. So much of building the Anseye Pou Ayiti movement requires communicating to different groups, including in-person, remotely, and even with social media.
Kreyolicious: What steps did you take to get to that level?
What has helped me is being curious about new strategies, open to learning, and proactive in getting feedback (positive and critical!) about my communication skills. I looked for a model of what “excellence” in this would look like, I reached out to others for help (peers and mentors who consider communication as a strength!), and I tried to improve one thing at a time (communicating with a small group, making public presentations, practicing a “pitch”). One step at a time was my approach, and I am still working on getting better!
Kreyolicious: What advice would you have for those out there who are reading your story, and who are just a few years away from being 30, or have already turned 30, and who are looking at your accomplishments and making comparisons—unfavorable comparisons…feeling weighed down? You know like,”OMG, look at this girl, she’s on Forbes 30 Under 30.What would you like to say to them?
We are in this together. I truly believe that. I am so honored by the Forbes recognition and my opportunities, but Anseye Pou Ayiti is about a collection, a movement of people who believe and have gotten involved in ways big and small. I absolutely credit all those who have taught me, supported me, laughed with me, and challenged me along the way. I would ask those who are looking at their path: Who do you surround yourself with? Those who inspire you, push you to be your best self, and lift you up when you have doubts? I have been blessed to have that in my life. I can also say I value hard work and have started to get more comfortable with risk taking, which absolutely make a difference when you’re a social entrepreneur.
Kreyolicious: What are you going to be undertaking next?
Now and next is Anseye Pou Ayiti – I am deeply committed to doing whatever I can to make the Anseye Pou Ayiti movement as successful as it can be, changing what people think is possible when society invests in collective leadership so all Haitian children receive the quality education they deserve.