Approximately 20 Haitian high school students spent several hours as guests of Catholic University’s law school on Aug. 24, 2011, as part of a three-week journey to the United States designed to broaden their understanding of U.S. culture, society, and system of justice.
The students are members of the Youth Ambassadors Program, sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the United States Department of State and the YMCA.
Their stop on campus was coordinated by the Columbus School of Law’s CUA-Haiti Initiatives program, which is currently working with a sister law school in Haiti to create and train a new generation of lawyers and citizens willing to stay and work in Haiti, despite dire social and political conditions, to bring justice and peace to a country that has known neither.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” said law school dean Veryl Miles during her luncheon welcome remarks to the group, drawing upon one of the best known thoughts from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The Haitian youths were accompanied by chaperones, some D.C. youth and government students, YMCA personnel, and seven students and faculty from nearby Archbishop Carroll High School.
Through the International YMCA, Haiti sends two groups of public high school students and youth leaders to visit the United States in 2011 and 2012 to participate in intensive cultural immersion experience related to the theme of grassroots democracy and civic engagement. The Haiti program focuses on youth involvement in community rebuilding and disaster preparedness.
After lunch at the law school, the students listened to a lecture presented by Nan Kennelly, deputy director of the State Departments’ Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, who described the agency’s mission to combat modern slavery. She urged the Haitian and American young people to learn more about human trafficking and to find ways both individually and in groups to work against trafficking in their countries and around the world. Later, the students toured the CUA campus, and were then treated to a tour of the adjacent Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, guided by CUA law professor Lucia Silecchia.