Even after seeing endless footage and coverage of the January 12 earthquake that left much of Haiti's capital and surrounding area in ruins, it is nearly impossible to fully conceptualize the devastation. The media can inundate papers and Web sites with images of the hungry, the sick, the orphaned and the dead, but there is no way to represent the hardship thrust on each individual life. Our fellow Haitian-American students have lost extended family and friends, and our thoughts continue to be with them.
We applaud the Bowdoin students past and present who are hard at work on relief efforts for Haiti, whether it be raising awareness, collecting funds, or volunteering in Port-au-Prince. Though we cannot raid our closets or pantries to send clothes or food, we can develop creative and engaging ways to raise funds for Haiti's immediate needs from afar. As a community, we can support these ideas.
As we look down the road, it is not only money that is important; our increased awareness of Haiti's rich culture and, as some have called it, "resilient" nature, is also integral to our long-term investment in the cause. Though we have the power to help, as many have pointed out, Haiti's people are powerful in their own right. We can engage with the parts of Haitian culture that are beautiful. As our peers with ties to Haiti tell their stories, we can listen. The process of rebuilding Haiti will require both extraordinary amounts of money and vision—and although we are thousands of miles away, we can listen to what Haiti asks of us, and respond generously.