English in Mind Institute (EIM) is one of the only, non-profit adult English schools in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. We have all Haitian teachers and administrators, with around 200 students at 5 levels all following a Cambridge ESOL syllabus.
We launched our first 10-day trip for foreign volunteers in March 2013. Our initial purpose was to introduce our students to native English speakers, and help them gain both language skills and also a broader cultural understanding. The result, however, has been a true exchange, with our volunteers often learning far more than our students!
Along with teaching, we get to know a variety of other partner projects around Port-au-Prince and engage in the tourism aspects (beaches, mountains, live music, etc.) that make Haiti so irresistible. Our goal is to provide an authentic experience within a country that’s so often misunderstood. And as any of our now 100+ volunteers can tell you, this experience impacts each person in their own, unique way.
Our trips in Haiti it will be a mix of volunteering and tourism. On the weekends, we’ll see the sights, relax, get to know each other and enjoy the beautiful beaches and mountains. During the week, we’ll be mainly volunteering. The weekday schedule breaks into 3 chunks- the morning sessions (9-12), the EIM teaching sessions (1-3) and the afternoon sessions (3:30-5:30ish). If you aren’t feeling well or just want some downtime, you don’t have to participate in all 3 chunks but you certainly can if you want to. Breakfast and morning meeting is at 8am and we usually eat dinner around 6. Some nights we’ll go out, others we’ll stay on base and drink cheap beer from our neighbors, etc.
Arrive in Port-au-Prince, get a tour of the green initiatives going on at our home Haiti Communitere. Meet the students and have them teach you Creole!
Get a downtown tour of Port-au-Prince including the palace, cathedral, iron market and a visit to the museum, to get a better understanding of this complicated country and its complicated past. Spend the afternoon doing a school-wide conversation class with English in Mind (EIM).
Spend the day relaxing at the beach. This is the Caribbean after all!
Volunteer doing sports, arts, or English programs with various organizations in town. Spend the afternoons teaching extra English classes to amazing EIM students. Work on alternative gardening projects, get a local’s tour of Cite Soleil, make briquettes out of recycled paper, see how the sandals at Rebuild Globally are made from recycled tires and much, much more.
Friday night- Saturday
Head up to the mountains of Furcy. Stay at the beautiful Rustik B&B in the woods and enjoy the cool air and gorgeous scenery of day hikes in this area.
Sleep in, group brunch, fly home!
The cost of the trip is $850, not including your flight. This will cover all your food, housing, transportation and entry fees. Basically, the only thing it doesn’t cover is alcohol and any extras or souvenirs you pick up. You should expect to spend between $150-300 of your own money, depending on how crazy you plan on getting. Please bring enough cash as going to an ATM is inconvenient and dangerous.
The Haitian currency is Gourdes (around 65 G = $1) and it’s very easy to exchange money. A lot of places also accept US Dollars. I feel the need to tell you that almost all past participants have mentioned that they drank and bought way more than they thought they would, ha. So be prepared.
Whatever we don’t spend in country will be given as a collective donation to English in Mind Institute. Although the amount given changes depending on the number of participants, on average groups give 25-35% of the program fee as a straight donation to EIM.
To hold your spot, we ask you put down a $425 deposit. This can be done via the “Donate” button on the EIM website. The remaining $425 will be due about a month before the start of your trip.
ENGLISH IN MIND is our main project and we’ll be going there nearly every a Haitian taught and administered adult English school with classes at 5 different levels that each meet twice a week from 3-5pm. We won’t be replacing their regular classes but we will be providing extra classes from 1-3 everyday. These can be as open or as structured as you want. Some people choose to create their own curriculum (we have resources to help you plan) and others choose to teach sample listening exams which have already been written. You will all be split into groups of 2-4 to teach at various levels and some days you’ll just be observing/ helping. The only time the whole group of us will be together is for the giant school wide conversation class. For more info, check out the teaching guide. We have also recently purchased land for EIM and have many gardening projects available as well.
REBUILD GLOBALLY is a nonprofit social enterprise that trains local women to make leather sandals recycled tires and other donated materials. Beyond getting a tour of their workshop and hearing about their impressive apprenticeship program, we may also have an opportunity to sit and help actually make shoes.
CITE SOLEIL was at one point labeled the most dangerous neighborhood in the Western Hemisphere, but with the right guide, it’s worth checking out. Through our friends at HC, we have a strong network in Cite Soleil and will be getting a tour and helping out with various projects as they come up. Also, in Cite Soleil we’ll be working with a local school to provide arts and sports programs during their morning recess.
TI KAY, which means “little house” is an AIDS and Tuberculosis clinic that’s part of the General Although we aren’t doctors, Ti Kay is always looking for non-medical volunteers to feed and walk the patients. I personally also like to bring music and have a dance party with them. (*Note, the clinic is currently in transition and may not be open at the time of your trip.)
THE APPARENT PROJECT trains Haitian artisans to create “upcycled” jewelry, journals and home décor out of discarded materials such as cereal boxes, oil drums and discarded paper. Their larger mission is address the orphan crisis in Haiti by providing a living wage to parents. We’ll get a tour of the artisans at work and have a chance to do some shopping that supports a good cause.
KORE TIMOUN was created with the aim of educating and preparing the next generation to be better world citizens. Their activities include tuition sponsorship, health care activities, public hospitals cleaning and support, free clinic services, nutritional formation, food distribution, summer camp, free tutoring, alphabetization and housing programs. We will be working with their after school program to teach kids (ages 7 to 14) basic English education and games.
Other projects come up all the time so new partners may be added by the time you arrive. There are always interesting things happening around Port-au-Prince and as needs change, we’ll let you know. *There is also time for personal projects so if there’s something else you’re interested in, let us know and we’ll be sure to make time for it!