Haiti Relief: We Came Together!

By: Leif Fredebo Nielsen, City College of San Francisco, John Adams Campus

On March 29th, a group of individuals stopped by Action Against Hunger's office in New York City to present us with a donation raised by the students and faculty of City College of San Francisco’s John Adams Campus. Here is their inspiring story:

During the last three years, the John Adams Campus has undergone earthquake retrofitting, and students and faculty have suffered greatly dealing with constant moves, noise and dust. The day before the official reopening of the building on Wednesday, February 24, the faculty of all departments and the students joined in a successful food fair in the hallway around the cafeteria, and for the first time in years, we felt united. Helen / Hye Eun Kim from Korea later wrote, “We live in the same global village. We felt that we were a family; to share the same feelings is family.”

ESL 7/8 started the semester reading an article about the rescue of one person during the 1994 Northridge earthquake. Naturally, this led to a discussion about the thousands of victims in the Haiti earthquake, which had just happened a few days before. The horrible event was still headline news, and everybody brainstormed ideas to help Haiti. The textbook we used had a chapter on “making an impact” on the world by active social involvement which fit right into the project, and the class soon turned into a civics class. We did research in the library about Haiti and read books to be informed about the history and general living conditions before the earthquake. Some students made fliers and slogans which were posted on bulletin boards around school, and others made huge posters with information about the country and the earthquake. Some collected pictures about the earthquake from the internet and wrote about the horrible conditions. One student, a Korean pastor, Kyu Sok Kang, even went to Haiti with his church group for ten days and came back with moving pictures of misery which he showed several classes in a joint slide show. Aynura Medeubayeva from Kazakhstan commented, “Everyone understood the importance of this event for the people of Haiti, and everyone tried to help, and that was amazing. It reminds me of what real brotherhood is like. I learned that even one (wo)man can change the world to the better.” We decided we had to raise money for Haiti.

Instead of making the Haiti relief effort an ESL event, we decided to involve the entire John Adams Campus and work with the newly elected student council on a joint effort to raise money. One student from Chile, Katherine Vidal, had several meetings with the John Adams student council coordinator, Billington Mbolo, and later met with the Dean of Student Affairs at the Ocean Campus, Elizabeth Rockstroh, and was able to get the “official” CCSF money box on loan for a week. Students from ESL 5/6 and 7/8 took turns guarding the box at the John Adams main entrance, and in the short four-day week before President’s Day weekend, we were able to raise $577.94, which we decided to donate to Action Against Hunger's efforts to help Haiti.

Nathalie Poupon from France added, “We gave our time and money, our contribution to save some lives in Haiti. We have had a little impact on rebuilding a very poor country.”

The students and faculty from CCSF's John Adams Campus prove that passion and hard-work can make a global impact.