Former USU professors return home after six weeks of helping in Haiti

CORRECTS YEAR - In this March 21, 2016 photo, 15-year-old Guerline Augustin carries river water on her head, back to a borderland encampment outside the southeast Haitian town of Anse-a-Pitres, Haiti. The encampment is filled with people who either fled or were deported from the neighboring Dominican Republic amid an immigration crackdown. Within a month, authorities hope to move nearly 2,400 people in a half-dozen encampments by providing enough money for them to rent homes for a year in nearby towns. (AP Photo/David McFadden)

Nick Eastmond’s travels around the world in the name of education already this year took him and his wife Irene to Haiti for six weeks, starting in January.

Eastmond, a professor emeritus in USU’s Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences Department, took his expertise to Haiti as a Fulbright Senior Scholar.

“My job was to work with faculty at the University of Notre Dame d’Haiti’s branch in the city of Jacmel and to teach a seminar on educational research,” said Dr. Eastmond. “I did that and also taught a couple of other groups while I was there.”

Eastmond is fluent in French and all of his teaching was done in that language.

Irene, who also taught at USU, was asked to teach an English conversation class.

“I can speak some French, so that helped in explanations,” she said. “But they wanted me as a native English speaker to help their students, who had already had several years of english.”

The Eastmonds said they were comfortable during their stay but indicated electricity was erratic or often there was no water because there wasn’t always electricity to operate water pumps.

Before he retired Nick made an application along with his department head, planning to do some work in Pakistan.

“At about that time, Pakistan got rather dangerous, especially for Americans, so it wasn’t the right time to go.”

That put them on a five-year list which led to the assignment in Haiti in the last year of their eligibility.

Almost 300,000 people died in the Haiti earthquake six years ago and the Eastmonds said evidence still remains of the damage including buildings still standing but un-inhabited and uninhabitable.

“They have done a lot of reconstruction,” said Irene, “and they have been constructing buildings to be earthquake safe.”

They say it is likely they will return to Haiti one day.

“It may not happen immediately,” said Nick, “but if we have the right assignment we would love to do that. We do have a couple of interns from the Global Communications Department here on campus, people who served LDS missions in French-speaking places, and we think two of them will be leaving in early-June to go back down and work at the University of Notre Dame d’Haiti.”

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