Great Idea: Sponsoring language immersion for Haitians

April 30, 2004

This summer, students from the University of the Episcopal Church of Haiti will be living out a great idea thanks to the Diocese of Lexington. It's an idea other friends of the church in Haiti might want to copy.

The Companion Diocese Committee is offering an English immersion summer school for 10 or more students. The unique experiment will last about two weeks, according to the Rev. Jan Dunnavant, coordinator. Students will stay part of the time at the 315-bed diocesan camp and conference center and part of the time with families. Plans for classwork still are being worked out.

The students will visit throughout the diocese.

"We wanted to do something with which we could really make a difference, not just send money," said Dunnavant. "I am really enthusiastic about it."

A pilgrimage to Haiti last year prompted the project. Dunnavant and others visited the university in downtown Port-au-Prince. Founded in 1995, the school still is being expanded next door to the church's Musee d'Art Haitian. More than 650 students are enrolled in one of the five courses of study -- agricultural sciences, business administration, education, computer science and theology. When the Lexington visitors asked the dean, the Rev. Burnet Cherisol, what they could do to be helpful, they learned that English language study would be invaluable.

Other dioceses or congregations interested in offering similar help may call or e-mail Dunnavant at Church of the Resurrection, Lexington, Ky, 859-885-6391;