In roughly 30 seconds, when the ground started to shake in Haiti, more than 300,000 people lost their lives. Since that day in January 2010, the country has been trying to piece itself back together.
On Wednesday, former Haitian Prime Minister Michèle Pierre-Louis reminded symposium attendees at Dartmouth College of the struggles her country continues to face.
"We are patient, but sometimes we are frustrated that the process is so slow," Pierre-Louis said.
The three-day event, called "Haiti and Dartmouth at the Crossroads," highlights the commitment Dartmouth made to the country in the weeks and months after the earthquake. The Ivy League School sent teams of doctors and health care workers, brought displaced Haitian college students to campus, helped raise more than $1.5 million for relief efforts and donated 40 tons of medical supplies. And the work continues.
Geisel School of Medicine Professor Peter Wright, whose work in Haiti dates backs to the mid-1970s, helped organize the symposium.
"I'm involved in the engineering school designing a better latrine. I'm involved with the business school about thinking about business models, thinking about rebuilding areas of the slums. I'm engaged with the medical school and others with health care education," Wright said.
In the audience-- Ronel LeFranc and Daphnee Charles. They spent two semesters at Dartmouth after their university in Haiti was flattened by the earthquake.
"I really expect that we will come up with something really important that the government will use in an efficient manner, for better development of our education system, our health care service and economic development of the country," LeFranc said.
"And also do something better," Charles said. "There are people; there are resources in Haiti that can actually help. There are international organizations to really help them to land."
The three areas of focus for the symposium are economics, health care and education.
"It is difficult, there are lots of obstacles, but we know how to deal with that and move forward," Pierre-Louis said.
The symposium will include lectures, discussion groups and even some musical performances. It's designed to come up with concrete solutions and strengthen the connection between two nations bonded by disaster.
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