The gift of listening


When she first heard about the earthquake, Dr. Joselli Deans was dumbfounded. 


The first-generation Haitian American dance professor, who has numerous family members living in Port-au-Prince, did not know what to think.


“I was just sort of dazed and I didn’t realize or understand the extent of the destruction until the next morning,” Deans said. “I didn’t get a lot of sleep for the next three nights.”


Having grown up in Haiti, Deans said watching the familiar yet distorted images flash across the television was difficult. 


“I saw the palace and cathedral in ruins and I screamed out loud,” she said. “I just can’t wrap my head around what’s going on.”


Deans was able to get in contact with her family members and learned that they were all alive, but most had lost their homes. 


She said the best thing she could do to help was simply be there to listen. 


“They’ve been traumatized,” she said. “I let them talk. I can’t imagine what they’re going through.”


Deans is not planning to visit her home country any time soon, but has given sizable donations and opened up her home to her family. 


“For right now, what I need to do is pray and stay here and do what I have to do here at Eastern-keep earning a living to help how I can,” Deans said. 


“The magnitude of the problem is so huge,” she said. “I know that this is going to be  a long journey, so I’ll have plenty of time to contribute.” 


Deans has been impressed by the world’s generosity to her country thus far and sees it as a sign that the idea that of needing one another is finally being understood across the globe.


“I can’t imagine what Haiti’s going to have to do to become a functioning country again,” Deans said. 

“I’m praying that … somehow, out of the ashes, something would rise that would be a better Haiti, a fairer Haiti, a more prosperous and healthy Haiti.”

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