Young Leaders

Young Haitian Leaders attend arts-based leadership seminar in the City of Brotherly Love

by Maeva Renaud (right)

PHILADELPHIA, USA 2010 - Ten (10) Haitian Young Leaders participated in an arts-based Youth Leadership Training at BuildaBridge International on August 18, 2011 in Philadelphia. The young Haitian students were selected in Haiti though an application and interview process based on their academic standing, community involvement, and interest in community development. These young Haitian Ambassadors are affiliated with YMCA-Haiti. They were sponsored in the US as guests of the Philadelphia Regional YMCA and the US. State Department. During the US tour, the group has visited organizations in NYC, Philadelphia and will end their experience next week in Washington. Susie Baldauf was the Us-Based leader for the YMCA.

Ranging between the ages of 16-21, these young men and women where very eager to gain knowledge and skill to bring back to their own communities. The day started with a Jamaican welcome song and dance instructed by Master Teaching Artist, Magira Ross, followed by a name game where participants had to share their name, what they are good at, and their hopes for Haiti.
“ When the youth first walked into the BuildaBridge International house, they seemed a little timid, however once we got into the singing and dancing, they came alive--happy to be here and thrilled to express their ideas in creative ways” said Haitian poet, Maeva Renaud, who is also the Haiti Programs Associate for BuildaBridge. 

As part of BuildaBridge International’s Arts Relief and Development program, which focuses on direct service to youth in crisis, and leader training for arts in community development, the single-day seminar was an abbreviated version of a more intense training course through the BuildaBridge Institute. Dr. J. Nathan Corbitt, President and Co-founder of BuildaBridge International, stated
“The greatest sustainable resource of any community, culture, or country is an engaged, creative, educated and motivated youth. This valuable resource is nurtured and guided by mature adults with the wisdom and patience for a hopeful future.”
Throughout the day, these young Haitian leaders increased their skills in developing a core value motto. Through visual art, they were able to illustrate the problems that they see in their community as well as envisioning a future for their community. This became part of a wall of transformation that displayed the current state (the problem) and the future that they hope for (their vision). Through a transformational drama experience, they were able to identify barriers and ways to overcome them.
“ The youth expressed not being heard or understood by older leaders, self-doubt and fears, timidity and lack of confidence as common barriers of young leaders in Haiti.” said Renaud

These young leaders from Cap-Haitien, Aux Cayes, and Jeremie, created a list of ways to break down barriers and overcome struggles. The list included; going around them, collaborating, communicating, educating, cooperating and faith. Julia Crawford, the BuildaBridge Artist on Call who facilitated this portion of the training speaks of transformation as
“an ongoing process of constant change. Movement lends itself to depict this ongoing change, as it is an unraveling or series of images in motion. Transformation is not static just as dance is not.”
The students also were given a tour of the historic Germantown community to understand the concept of asset-mapping. They were asked to compare and contrast the Germantown community to their community based on holistic resources available such as human capital, institutions, organizations, financial assets, physical and environmental assets, spiritual assets, cultural, and governmental.
This exercise, based on the Haitian Proverb, “Men Anpil, Chay Pa Lou” (Many Hands Lighten the Burden), “seemed to be a difficult concept to grasp at first for the students”, said Maeva Renaud.
Nonetheless, through the investigative tour of the Germantown community, the students were able to reflect on the assets they personally have as well as those in their community.

Collaboration was the fifth element for leadership. Students created a mandala mural depicting personal assets and how these connected the broader community. At the end of the day, these young Haitian leaders recited their own motto and were anxious to share what they’ve learned about community development with their peers. The last aspect of the training, Implementation, is up the the youth themselves. How will they apply what they’ve learned in their community? What is their plan of action?

Angela Cadet, one of the leaders from Tabarre, stated
“ there is a wall in my community that has been there since the colonial days, this wall is part of our history, but no one is taking care of. When I get back to Haiti, I’m going to find a way to conserve the essence of that wall and encourage the people in my community to value our history.”
“ We have created an online networking group for these young Haitian leaders on our BuildaBridge People Network. It’s a great way for them to stay connected, involved, and provided with resources that will aid their own growth as agents of change” said Renaud.
BuildaBridge International is concerned with children who live in poverty, crisis and catastrophe. Since 1997, BuildaBridge has provided direct service programs and training. Since the earthquake in Haiti, BuildaBridge has renewed its commitment to the country and are in the process of developing alliances, training programs, and direct service that meet long-term sustainable development needs for children, their families and the communities in which they live. BuildaBridge is a non-profit 501(c)3 arts education and intervention organization that engages the transformative power of the arts to bring hope and healing to children, families, and communities in the tough places of the world. BuildaBridge motivates, enlists, trains, and connects those with artistic gifts with those in greatest need.


This welcome song from Jamaica is led by Magira Ross, BuildaBridge Community Programs Coordinator and Shelter Liaison. The song (with movement) was used at the August 19, 2011 Youth Leadership Seminar with the Young Haitian Leaders visiting from Haiti and sponsored by the Philadelphia regional YMCA and the U.S. State Department. Good Morning Neighbor is an excellent example of how to teach a song without spoken instruction and even the distribution of percussion instruments (eggs in this case).

Good Morning Neighbor from J. Nathan Corbitt on Vimeo.

Motto created by Young Haitian Leaders as part of the training.

Haitian Young Leaders-Motto from J. Nathan Corbitt on Vimeo.


A short video response to the learning with the BuildaBridge Youth Leadership Training session on August 18, 2011 by Susie Baldauf, International Director YMCA Of Philadelphia & Vicinity. BuildaBridge hosted the Haitian Young Leaders for the day. The group was the guest of the Philadelphia Regional YMCA and sponsored by the US. State Department. Training included arts-based experiences in five areas: Core Value Motto, Visioning, Identifying Barriers, Asset-Mapping and Collaboration. The single-day training is an abbreviated version of more intense experience.


Haitian Young Leaders Response-Susie from J. Nathan Corbitt on Vimeo.

Haitian Kreyol

A short video report of learning with the BuildaBridge Youth Leadership Training session on August 18, 2011. BuildaBridge hosted Haitian Young Leaders. The group was the guest of the Philadelphia Regional YMCA and sponsored by the US. State Department. Training included arts-based experiences in five areas: Core Value Motto, Visioning, Identifying Barriers, Asset-Mapping and Collaboration. The single-day training is an abbreviated version of more intense experience.

Young Haitian Leaders-Angela from J. Nathan Corbitt on Vimeo.

Young Haitian Leaders-Gasly Gaston Mondelus from J. Nathan Corbitt on Vimeo.

Click to View Young Haitian Leaders Motto
Click to View the Photographs of the Day.
Comments by Susie Baldauf of the Philadelphia YMCA
Comments by Angela Cadet, Haitian group leader (in French)
Comments by Giovannia Antoine, Young Haitian Leader
Comments by Gasly Mondelus, Young Haitian Leader

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