Hamline News

January 12, 2011

Bells for Haiti

January 12 marks the one-year anniversary of the earthquake that devastated Haiti. One year later, the Hamline community will gather to remember the 300,000 lives lost and the 1.3 million people still struggling in the aftermath.

All are welcome to join the commemoration on Wednesday, January 12 from 3:30-4:30 p.m. in the Bush Student Center Lobby (1551 Hewitt Ave., St. Paul). The Office of Diversity Integration, Wesley Center for Spirituality, Service, and Social Justice, and Visiting Professor of French Max Adrien, will host a small program that will include reflections from students, faculty, and staff.

At 3:53 p.m. the gathering will observe a moment of silence as the bells of Hamline's Old Main ring along with others across the state in honor of the victims in Haiti.

The impact of this tragedy has touched those at Hamline in many ways, but perhaps the person most personally impacted is Professor Adrien. Adrien grew up in Haiti. His brother, a priest, was there during the earthquake and continues to help in the recovery.

Without any medical or disaster relief training, Adrien could not help in the immediate earthquake zone, so he found other ways to give back to his country.

“If I go there, I cannot heal. I cannot help in that capacity,” Adrien said at the time. “Haiti is part of my heart, and I think right now the best way I can help is through donations and through my work as a teacher.”

He began by offering an informal language course in Haitian Creole and opened it up to everyone on campus as well as the public at large. He hoped to raise awareness about Haiti’s current situation, but also the country’s rich history, culture, and language. People from all walks of life participated in the classes, some planned to travel to Haiti to help in the relief effort. The story even caught the attention of CNN.

This fall, "Haiti: History, Language and Culture" became an official for-credit class in Hamline's College of Liberal Arts. To date, Adrien has taught four different pro bono courses on Haiti in the community and continues to speak on the topic around the country.