As You Set out for Ithaka...I Mean Haiti

In our Dudes of Disruption Men’s Group, we refer to our goals as Ithaca, inspired by Cavafy’s iconic poem of the same name. This started...

In our Dudes of Disruption Men’s Group, we refer to our goals as Ithaca, inspired by Cavafy’s iconic poem of the same name. This started over the summer when we were preparing to run a Spartan Race and fundraising for Operational Homefront. It’s carried over to every goal along the way, both group-oriented and personal. Our journey to Haiti is no different. Haiti is Ithaca.

Cavafy begins the poem:

And towards the end:

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you are destined for.
But do not hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you are old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

He writes that it is on the journey to our destination where the richness of life is found. As a Men’s Group, we’ve embodied his words. In every journey to Ithaca, we keep our eyes focused on the opportunities to learn something about ourselves and the world. Every day is a day for discovery. These nuggets of knowledge are the true value. Arriving at our destination just means it’s time to set out again. 

Even in the few months we’ve been preparing for Haiti, it is already filled with these nuggets of knowledge. One that strikes me is that it was the students who asked for the library. It wasn’t the HEART in Haiti administration who said it was necessary or our group who thought they needed it. It was the kids. The administration asked them what they wanted, the kids told them, and we were presented with the opportunity to make it a reality. One of the tenants of international development I've learned from my Dad, who’s worked with coffee farmers in Latin America for 30 years, is that the most important thing is to listen to what the people want and need. I love that we were given the opportunity to hear the students and what they believe is most important for their education.

The students of HEART in Haiti said they wanted a library more than anything. They'll have one soon! Maybe it will look similar to this.

There are more nuggets in the library too. A library is a place of hope, knowledge, learning, peace, and development. In many ways, it’s a space to define and discovery identity. I remember going to the public library with my mom when I was a kid and later spending hours in libraries in high school and college. Yet, I always took the library for granted. It was something always there, something always available. A library would never be something I asked for. I write library but I mean anything that embodies those library-like qualities of hope, knowledge, learning, peace, and development. Growing up where I did, I had access to them already and didn’t even recognize it. I didn’t see that I sailed a craft loaded with a cornucopia of supplies on the journey to Ithaca.

That’s what so amazing about what the students of HEART in Haiti want. They are on their own journey to Ithaca, whatever it may be for them, and they’re choosing to have a craft embodied by discovery alongside them. I, for one, think that’s very powerful.

Of course, we are all on journeys to Ithaca. You, me, everyone. Always. By reading this blog, you’re a part of our journey. You have an opportunity to find nuggets of knowledge in your own relationship to Haiti, international development, contribution, teamwork, how to be connected in an increasingly technological world, and anything else that you find. Embrace the journey to Ithaca and enjoy the adventure and discovery. In many ways, it’s all we have.

And along the way, I challenge all of us to notice when we’re given opportunities to ask for support. The students of HEART in Haiti asked for a library to aid them. What will we ask for? I wonder, will we request something as powerful as a “library” or choose something different instead?

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