Editor’s Note: Equiped with a degree in economics and political science, Haitian-American Katiana is looking to change the way we think about developing countries.
There are resources and cultural factors in these places that need to be recognized and valued before Western ways take over completely. Katiana’s system of international schools would teach people to respect their own nation and focus their talents inward.
I remember, as a child, going for a long drive in my father’s Jeep Cherokee with my sand castle gear, my pretty bathing suit, and the wind in my kinky hair. It was Sunday, and we were off to the beach. I remember the occasional pungent smells of the road, the numerous street vendors dripping sweat and hard work, and the taste of the salt in the air. Oh, how the air smelled of grilled fish, fried plantains and the sea.
Upon my arrival, there were numerous other children like me, except they were not like me at all. They had fair skin, light hair, and spoke differently. Like my father, the father of these foreign children knew the value of the Caribbean’s most important physical resource, and that was its tropical climate and sandy beaches.
The story of a developing country always projects images of starvation, pot bellies, political instability, and exploitation. But the developing world has so much to offer, from the rich history of the Caribbean region to the rich resources of the Continent of Africa, the spiritual prowess of East Asia to some of the most monumental places of the world in the Middle East. So why is it that the Western world is so keen on “rescuing” these nations? Is it to control? To explore? Or maybe the West truly cares?
When I lived in Haiti, I wasn’t starving, nor was I begging, nor did I have flies in my eyes. In fact, I watched Cartoon network and HBO, played video games, went to birthday parties, concerts, and of course went to the beach. I went to school from Monday to Friday, and after school I did my homework at the restaurant which my mother and father owned. The fact of the matter is that my parents were business owners, homeowners, college educated and financially sound. But how is that possible if Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere?
See, the thing is, people from developing countries are so brainwashed by the single story planted by Westerners in their heads that they start to idolize Western living. So it was a shock to me that I was able to do the same things I could do here in the US back home in Haiti.
Today, as an adult, I am still motivated by my childhood experiences in Haiti. Obviously, life in Haiti wasn’t all peaches and cream; after all, my family did flee the country for a reason. This brings me to the exact motivations of my aspiring career plans.
The real reason why the developing world is so keen to exploitation and the stereotype of being inadequate and “backwards” is its political instability. These instabilities are deeply rooted in cultural history and psychological damages from colonialism. Therefore, as an educated Haitian American woman with a Bachelor in Economics and Political Science, I plan on playing a part in helping people free themselves of the chains of the “single story.” I believe that foreign aid is only effective when it is given in the form of education, and that’s exactly what I plan to do.
I plan to start an organization geared towards educating developing countries such as Haiti on the social sciences of Economics, Political Science, and Geography, and Business. There are numerous organizations which focus on science education, primary education, and medical education, but in my opinion all of this is useless without educating the people on how to manage their money, their minds, and their country.
My organization will either be an international business school, and international school of public affairs (much like the one here at FIU) or a liberal arts public university located in Haiti. This organization or university will provide opportunities for overseas studies and will open the doors (for all of the Caribbean, not just Haiti) of economic and political prosperity.
Students will learn to value the available resources of their home countries and obtain skills, knowledge, and entrepreneurial innovation on how to properly take control of these resources. Upon its success, I will extend the university to numerous campuses on the continent of Africa. This new educational haven will serve as tool for reversing the political, economic, and social hindrances of the developing world of the Caribbean and the continent of Africa.
If I were to receive these scholarships, I would continue my education without sacrificing my savings. For the past two years I have been putting every possible penny aside to save up for the start-up cost of building such an organization. I work 40 or more hours a week, and I take between 15 and 18 credits a semester. My hunger for change is strong and I cannot wait to one day take a step back and look at an organization that I’ve built from the ground up.
With these scholarships, I will no longer have to fund my own education, nor will I have to be forced to obtain student loans. Upon graduation, I would be debt free and have a solid amount of savings to start my dreams.