Thursday, January 29, 2009

Guest Blog: Tom Coohill Visits Haiti

Tom is a professor of Physics at Siena.
Thanks, Tom, for sharing your story:

It’s almost 2000 miles from New York; 50 years from my graduation from St. Michael’s DHS in Brooklyn; 3rd world versus super power; all black compared to all white; but similar is soo many ways. It’s The Sant in Port au Prince, Haiti, and has the same feel, spirit, and success that everything the Xaverian Brothers sponsor does.

I traveled to Haiti to visit Br. Harry Eccles in Hinche and was fortunate to be able to interact with the college students and visiting brothers at The Sant. Br. Harry and Br. Mike help oversee a house for a dozen to twenty college–age young men so that they can afford to attend university. The Xaverians help with funding but the house is now run by the men themselves a real fraternity. A short trip from where I was staying in PAP brought me to a modest house and nine of the men who live there. Brs. Mike, Larry and Matthew were visiting as well.

After introductions, each man gave a brief summary of who he was and what he was studying. They concluded with their “dreams,” which all involved practical service to Haiti and helping others share in the gift they have been given of a college education. It was quite touching and very informative. Such dedication in each and every student is soo rare these days. It was evident that the high standards, rigorous training, and interest in others, so central to the Xaverian mission, was instilled in each of them. No whining about being in a 3rd world county, having little money for extras, having to study hard. Each felt blessed and so they are.

We also got a chance to talk about science (I’m a Biophysicist) and they pumped me with insightful questions about ozone depletion (my specialty), global warming, medical physics, and American students. I’ve lectured around-the-world but have never had such a wonderful group, each and every one of them, milk me for so much information. These guys know their stuff and they want more. How inspiring.

My stay was only for 90 minutes but I haven’t stopped bragging about these gentlemen back here at Siena College. Every dollar given to them goes a long way and seeing how they care for each other and run The Sant, is truly remarkable. I recommend them to all of you and wish them all the best.

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