I wish I could be just a bit more Haitian.
I wish I didn’t worry so much about time, because I knew that in the end, being a few minutes late because you stopped to chat with a neighbor was well worth it.
I wish I didn’t know the concept that ‘good fences make good neighbors’, because everyone that lived near me was considered family and welcomed in my home at any time.
I wish I had the strength to walk miles up a hill carrying pounds of vegetables on my head and a baby on my back.
I wish that in my life and my work I could work as hard as they do everyday just to survive.
I wish that I could dance Konpa, and that music and art could penetrate my life and my culture in the same way it does theirs.
I wish I would wake up every morning and put on perfectly clean clothes and brush my hair, things I don’t do even though I don’t have the perfectly valid excuse of living in a tent with no running water.
We so often think about how Haitians should be more like us – they should be more educated, more organized, more efficient. But today I choose to think about the ways that we might all benefit from being just a bit more Haitian.
I live in Haiti, but I will never be Haitian. I will learn their language, and try, unsuccessfully, to dance Konpa. But, I will be always panicked when I’m running late, and I will worry about the small things because I don’t know what it’s like to worry about the big things. I will never have their rhythm, their grace, their dignity, or their strength. But I will continue to try.