Written by Jaimie Farel ’10
In typical Gustavus fashion, students, faculty, and staff quickly took action to offer aid to Haiti after the devastating earthquake of Jan. 12, 2010.
“Changing the World,” a January Interim Experience class led by Chris Johnson ’85, director of the Center for Vocational Reflection at Gustavus, organized fundraising efforts throughout campus, which included a T-shirt drive for an orphanage in Haiti, freewill donations, and key chain sales to benefit Lutheran World Relief.
“As a class, we thought about what we could do that was tangible for college students to achieve, and we thought of the idea of a T-shirt drive in which college students could donate T-shirts to give to different kids in Haiti,” says Megan Schmitt ’13, a class member. “It was really cool because each person in our class did something.” More than 900 T-shirts were donated and several hundred dollars.
A tent drive was also held, and eight tents were purchased and personally delivered by Anna Versluis, assistant professor of geography. Versluis arrived in Haiti Feb. 28 to study material aid received in Haiti after the natural disaster. Versluis was in Haiti until March 7 on a research grant.
Versluis first went to Haiti in January 1998 to work with a Haitian human rights organization, and stayed for nearly three years. “I was recognizing the other day that in my adult life, I’ve lived longer in Port-au-Prince than any other one place, so it’s definitely a home to me,” says Versluis. “I chose to do research there because it’s an under-researched area. There aren’t that many academics doing research in Haiti, at least in geography and environmental studies.”
Versluis will present a free public lecture on the current situation in Haiti at 7p.m. on March 15, 2010, in Alumni Hall, located in the O.J. Johnson Student Union.
Here is a short video documenting how Gustavus students, faculty, and staff helped earthquake victims in Haiti.