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Haiti Remembered

by Catherine Angst

Today Jacques Pierre releases an artistic memorial video honoring the victims and survivors of the January 12th, 2010 Haitian earthquake. Pierre is the Haitian Creole lecturer at Duke University’s Department of Romance Studies and the co-director of Duke’s Haiti Lab. Pierre was born in Cap-Haitian, Haiti.

Seven years ago, Haiti experienced a devastating earthquake that took 230,000 lives and injured 300,000 people. Many countries from the around the world showed solidarity with Haiti during this catastrophic moment. Haiti has made substantial strides toward recovery since 2010. Pierre wants to keep the memory of the victims alive.

In 2015, Pierre coordinated a special commemorative service for the fifth anniversary of the earthquake at Duke Chapel. “The service was a symbolic way to grieve but, I didn’t want people to forget about the loss experienced by the Haitian people,” said Pierre. Shortly after that commemorative service, Pierre began what would develop into this digital memorial.

Over the past two years, Pierre has collected words of solace from around the world and many universities. People have shared their messages of love and support across this book’s pages.

Pierre says, “My hope is this video becomes a collective memory. I would like everyone to share their wishes and hopes for rebuilding Haiti.” Pierre plans to give the memorial book to Haiti which is in the process of constructing an earthquake memorial site.

Learn a Less Commonly Studied Language

Duke University offers several less commonly studied languages: Haitian Creole, Hebrew, K’iche’ Maya, and Tibetan. These languages all carry the FL code and can be applied towards Duke’s foreign languages requirement.

Haitian Creole Studies at Duke University

Fall 2016 Course Offerings:

  • CREOLE 101 & 701 – Elementary Creole I

An introduction to the essential elements of Haitian Creole or Kreyòl language and aspects of Haitian culture. The first of the two-semester sequence of elementary Haitian Creole or Kreyòl, the course provides practice in understanding, speaking, reading, and writing the language, culturally contextualized through units on health care, Haitian women¿s rights issues, and unpaid child servants (restavèk). Students will acquire enough vocabulary and idioms to be able to interact with Haitians. Taught in Haitian Creole. No pre-requisite

  • CREOLE 203 & 703 – Intermediate Creole I

First semester of intermediate Haitian Creole or Kreyol. This course moves beyond survival skills in Creole to more complex social interactions and expressions of analysis and opinion. Intermediate skills in understanding, speaking, writing, reading will be contextualized within a broad range of issues such as rural life in Haiti, religion, frenchified Creole vs popular Creole, through texts, poems, and excerpts taken from novels in Haitian Creole. Students will learn to carefully follow contemporary events and debates in Haitian culture using internet resources in Creole. Pre-requisite: Creole 102 or equivalent. Taught in Haitian Creole.

Why Study Haitian Creole?

  • Haitian Creole is a Francophone language with influences from Portuguese, Spanish, and West African Languages.
  • Haitian Creole is one of the official languages of Haiti.
  • Haitian Creole is spoken by over world, but mainly in the Caribbean.
  • Duke University Haitian Creole lecturer Jacques Pierre develops online video teaching tools available here.

Duke Opportunities:

K’iche’ Maya at Duke University

Fall 2016 Course Offerings:

  • KICHE 101 & 703 – Elementary K’iche’ Maya I

Introduction to essential elements of K’iche’ Maya language and aspects of Maya culture. K’iche’ Maya, a language spoken by about a million people in the western Highlands of Guatemala, is one of the major indigenous languages in the Americas. Emphasis on active language production to develop basic conversational skills for everyday interactions. No pre-requisite.

  • KICHE 203 & 703 – Intermediate K’iche’ Maya I

Develops greater competencies in writing in K’iche’ and translation to/from K’iche’. Covers more advanced grammar (verb modalities) and broader range of scripts (colonial vs. modern orthography). Research conducted in K’iche’ using the Oral History archive at the University of New Mexico. Students select a story from the online archive, listen to audio, correct transcription, rewrite it in modern orthography and translate it into contemporary English to present to classmates. Prerequisite: K’iche’ Maya 102 or equivalent.

Why study K’iche’ Maya?

  • K’iche’ is the most spoken indigenous language of the Mayan people living in the highlands of Central America, Guatemala, and El Salvador.
  • K’iche’ is the language of the Popol Wuj, the sacred book of the Maya, which dates to the 16th century.
  • Course taught “live” by Vanderbilt University Professor Mareike Sattle; students participate through videoconference / telepresence classrooms.

Duke Opportunities:

Hebrew Language at Duke University

Fall 2016 Course Offerings:

  • HEBREW 101 – Elementary Modern Hebrew

This course assumes that students enter with either little or no background in the language. Typically, students begin the course without any prior study or, at most, some knowledge from after-school Hebrew programs. We begin with a review of the Hebrew aleph-bet, and quickly move to develop students’ skills in conversation, reading, writing, and aural comprehension. Grammar is taught based on communicative needs. By the end of the first semester, students will be able to conjugate active verbs in the present tense, and will be introduced to active past-tense constructions; recognize and use simple syntactic structures; read and write texts with non-compound sentences. This course is taught in the fall semester only.

  • HEBREW 203 – Intermediate Modern Hebrew

This course is a continuation of Hebrew 002. Based on the skills learned during the first year of study, this course continues with a similar method, developing skills in all areas of language acquisition. Verb study will be taught according to the binyanim, and in general, grammar study will be more structured. Conversation will continue to be emphasized with stress on creating flexibility and elasticity in students’ skills. Formal presentations will be required, and students will begin to write texts requiring critical thought. Toward the end of the semester, standard Hebrew texts drawn from literary sources will be read, analyzed, and discussed in class. By the end of Hebrew 063, students will have completed a introduction to the grammar and basic syntactic structures of modern Hebrew. They will also be able to converse on a number of topics and to discuss simple critical ideas. This course is taught in the fall semester only.

  • HEBREW 391 – Independent Study

Why Study Hebrew?

  • Hebrew is the language of the Jewish Bible (the Christian “Old Testament”).
  • Hebrew is unique: a language with a 3,000 year history.
  • Hebrew is the primary language of Israel, one of the world’s fastest-growing high-tech economies and a country of constant prominence and importance on the world stage.
  • Once you know Hebrew, whole libraries of written treasures, ancient and modern, open up to you, as well as one of the most cutting-edge cinema and theater cultures in our modern world.
  • If you are interested in research on the Middle East or in working there, a knowledge of Hebrew is invaluable.

Duke Opportunities:

Tibetan Language at Duke University

Fall 2016 Course Offerings:

  • TIBETAN 101 & 701 – Elementary Tibetan I

Introductory Tibetan language course for students who have little to no knowledge of Tibetan. Development of speaking, listening, reading, writing skills through Tibetan concepts, grammar and syntax of spoken and written Tibetan. Topics include situations of everyday life (e.g. greetings, introductions, family, habits/hobbies, making appointments, food, visiting friends, weather, shopping, etc.) as well as aspects of Tibetan people and culture (e.g. songs, short stories, etc.).

  • TIBETAN 203 & 703 – Intermediate Tibetan I

Intermediate skill-building in the grammar and syntax of spoken and written Tibetan, along with development of skills in listening, speaking, reading and writing through the integrated use of spoken and literary forms. Students will also enhance their knowledge of Tibetan culture in order to improve their communication skills. Pre-Requisite: TIBETAN 102 Elementary Tibetan II or equivalent.

Why study Tibetan?

  • Tibetan is the language of a vast region at the heart of Asia and is used in China, Nepal, Bhutan, Pakistan, India, Russia, and Mongolia.
  • Tibetan is the language of the historical Tibet, home to Tibetan Buddhism, the source of one of the world’s richest contemplative traditions.
  • Course taught “live” by University of Virginia instructor Tsetan Chonjore; students participate through videoconference / telepresence classrooms.

Duke Opportunities:

 

 

Testing your Geographical Knowledge

Join Duke University lecturer Jacques Pierre and Haitian Creole students from many universities for a test of your geographical knowledge in this fifth set of riddles/memonèt.

Watch the first set of memonèt here:
https://youtu.be/_MzZq_WTW8Q

Watch the second set of memonèt here:
https://youtu.be/t2KuPgtkV48

Watch the third set of memonèt here:
https://youtu.be/hYIN2STg7qI

Watch the fourth set of memonèt here:
https://youtu.be/e6P55rhbLHA

Memonèt: Teaching Creole on YouTube

This past year Duke University lecture Jacques Pierre and his students collaborated with the John Hope Franklin Center to develop online video teaching tools for Haitian Creole. Pierre’s series of memonèt (Creole for riddles) feature Haitian culture, history, geography, proverbs, and food.

Pierre has been teaching Haitian Creole in Duke University’s Romance Studies Department since 2010. In 2014, Duke expanded its Creole offering through Cisco’s Telepresence virtual classroom. With the help of the virtual classroom, Pierre teaches students both Duke University students and students from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, the University of Virginia, and Vanderbilt University. Now with the creation of his YouTube videos, Pierre is teaching students around the world.

 

photo by Michelle Walz. Creative Commons license