"When we fall apart, we pick the pieces back up, put them together and try again.” One of my first nights in Haiti, after a particularly bad rehearsal, Miss Anthony told me this and I felt that throughout my time in Haiti this idea developed with me. The first rehearsal was my initial falling apart and the rest of my time in Haiti was spent reassembling the pieces and discovering new things about myself in the process. Haiti forced me to look at aspects of myself and my teaching that I might not have noticed or developed until student teaching or later in life. Haiti helped build my confidence, humbled me by giving me a new perspective of the world and how difficult it can be to learn another language while allowing me to see how beneficial it can be, and helped me become a better teacher all around.
Haiti was the best place for me to grow and learn as a teacher because the music camp environments are safe and welcoming. The students were incredibly patient while I was learning to speak Creole as well as find teaching techniques that fit the ensemble. Students would sit patiently while I would fumble around for the right words to explain a concept to them. If they did not understand they would simply ask me to explain it again. The music camps were a place where I could make mistakes and have people who were patient enough to let me try it again. Knowing that I could make mistakes every now and then made me feel assured that my students understood I am only human too. My mistakes were a growth experience rather than something negative, which made me grow as a teacher and person exponentially.
Throughout my time in Haiti I also found confidence within myself. Since my first rehearsal had not gone how I wanted it to, I was timid about rehearsals the first few days of camp. After receiving advice on rehearsal techniques, each rehearsal I found new things that went better than the day before. The improvements were simple and small, but when added together they were very rewarding. Seeing the improvements in my students under my instruction as well as building a strong relationship with the band as a whole allowed my confidence to build daily.
Haiti showed me music making in a different part of the world. The staff, students, and volunteers combined showed me that music can both transcend culture and class. Students from a wide variety of backgrounds and volunteers from around the world and attended the camps. Together we made music and where we came from did not matter. Being in Haiti gave me a real connection with people and allowed me to see a culture that was different than my own. I feel like I have made personal connections with people who I will be able work with later in life or even call my friends.