In this occasional series, we look at Haitian people, history, culture and influences across the globe that bring pride to many whenever we catch them. Here are a few to start.
- Haiti robotics team in global competition in Singapore. It looks like Haiti’s Team Robo, under the dome of Educáre Ayiti, did an amazing job at an international robotics competition in Singapore earlier this month. The FIRST Global Challenge competition, which takes place in a different country each year, invites each nation to send a team to build and program a robot. Its robot-building exercises build up ’ self-confidence, skills, imagination, courage and vision to do important things. The competition also nurtures cross-cultural communication and cooperation among high-schoolers worldwide through STEM, empowering them to come up with solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.
- Haiti’s first kindergarten opened in 1946. Yes, Odette Roy Fombrun Fombrun – a prolific writer who published textbooks, newspapers and magazine articles, and mystery novels – also opened the first kindergarten. She also opened the first professional flower shop in Haiti. Fombrun went into exile for 27 years during Duvalier before returning to Haiti. She died in December 2022, at age 105.
- Two landmarks honoring George Biassou are in Florida. George Biassou, born on Haitian soil during the 1700s, rose to become the highest-ranking Spanish officer in St-Augustine and was one of the early leaders in the Haitian Revolution. As a general, the highest-paid of his time, Biassou was dispatched to fight in Jacksonville. His house is still standing in Jacksonville and a statue of him is in St-Augustine.
- Jean Wilfrid Bertrand, head of Haiti’s National Archives for 40 years. Jean Wilfrid Bertrand, aka baron, has spent more than 40 years as the director of Haiti's National Archives, which house civil and state records, those of the Office of the President and most government ministries. At 78 now, few can match his four decades in the technical systems of filing, preserving physical documents and building a digital library. In 2016, he was decorated with the distinction of “Knight in the Order of Arts and Letters” for his systematic approach to business success that recognizes the importance of documents.
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