Harvard Educational Review
  1. Summer 2011 Issue »

    Diasporic Lakou

    A Haitian Academic Explores Her Path to Haiti Pre- and Post-Earthquake

    Charlene Désir
    In this essay, Charlene Désir reflects on her role as an academic from the Haitian diaspora and her journey to reconnect to her Haitian roots after the 2010 earthquake. Désir begins by exploring her family background and the centrality of lakou—a sacred family space in which to connect to her ancestors and cultural ways of knowing. By centering the conversation on community and reciprocity, she considers the roles and responsibilities of academics in the diaspora to give back to their communities. This essay tells the story of her experiences in Saint-Raphael, Haiti, developing the Lakou Solèy Academic Enrichment and Cultural Arts Center. In examining her own role in her community—or lakou—Désir underscores the importance of using Haitian epistemology in the process of rebuilding Haiti.

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    Charlene Désir is the cofounder and director of The Empowerment Network (TEN) Global, a mentoring and enrichment nonprofit that supports the academic, social, and psychological development of disenfranchised women and children in the United States and Haiti. Désir’s academic interests include the social adjustment of immigrant students in public schools, specifically the social curriculum of schooling, social trauma occurring in schools, and how social issues affect students’ cognitive abilities. She has presented various papers on the topic of immigrant students and their adjustment to the United States and has also published on the topics of immigrant identity, spirituality, and becoming a reflective researcher. Presently, she is the vice president of the Haitian Studies Association, a twenty-three-year-old academic and professional group that supports Haitian scholarship. Désir has worked as a school psychologist, K–12 school counselor, school administrator, and college professor.
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    Summer 2011 Issue


    Symposium: Unraveling the Double Bind
    Women of Color in STEM
    Editors of the Harvard Educational Review
    The Double Bind
    The Next Generation
    Lindsey E. Malcom and Shirley M. Malcom
    Inside the Double Bind
    A Synthesis of Empirical Research on Undergraduate and Graduate Women of Color in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics
    Maria Ong, Carol Wright, Lorelle L. Espinosa, and Gary Orfield
    Pipelines and Pathways
    Women of Color in Undergraduate STEM Majors and the College Experiences That Contribute to Persistence
    Lorelle L. Espinosa
    Unique Challenges for Women of Color in STEM Transferring from Community Colleges to Universities
    Marie-Elena Reyes
    Symposium: Learning After Disaster
    Voices from Haiti and New Orleans
    Editors of the Harvard Educational Review
    Rebuilding a Country, Cultivating Local Capacity
    Interview with Fabienne Doucet and Louis Herns Marcelin
    Raygine DiAquoi
    Diasporic Lakou
    A Haitian Academic Explores Her Path to Haiti Pre- and Post-Earthquake
    Charlene Désir
    Race, Charter Schools, and Conscious Capitalism
    On the Spatial Politics of Whiteness as Property (and the Unconscionable Assault on Black New Orleans)
    Kristen L. Buras
    “There Is a Lot That I Want to Do”
    Reflections on the Relief Efforts in Haiti
    Raygine DiAquoi
    Who Dat Say (We) “Too Depraved to Be Saved”?
    Remembering Katrina/Haiti (and Beyond): Critical Studyin’ for Human Freedom
    Joyce King

    Book Notes

    Storytelling for Social Justice
    by Lee Anne Bell

    Quality Education as a Constitutional Right
    edited by Theresa Perry, Robert P. Moses, Joan T. Wynne, Ernesto Cortés Jr., and Lisa Delpit

    Black Youth Rising
    by Shawn A. Ginwright