Eight days of volunteering can be tiring, but we always make sure to work in some fun to help wind down after a long day of work. Through reflection activities and fun games such as “Haiti’s Got Talent,” YSI helps to break down socioeconomic and cultural barriers every night.
Haiti’s Got Talent is an exclusive YSI experience featuring judges and a variety of acts. After the first few days of orientation activities, icebreakers, and adapting to life in the compound, we have time for some more relaxed bonding. The officers have made it a tradition to host a karaoke night-- Haiti’s Got Talent.
The show was hosted by Frank Schulze, who performed as Frank Seacrest. Session two of January 2016 featured guest judges Allie as Paula Krebs, Christian as Christian Jackson, and Brad, who embodied the beloved sarcasm of Simon Cowell. After each group performed, the judges voted to determine the winners. In addition, Widens, a young community member who lives at the compound with us, weighed in on every decision.
We had lip-syncing and dancing ranging from the soundtrack of Grease to the glories of 2000’s hip hop. Many duos gave singing performances as well. Rachel Gaufberg played her ukulele and sang “Bridge Over Troubled Water” with me, yielding a comment from Brad that the song must have been written by “Simon and Barfunkel.” Rachel also performed a unique blend of “Stand by Me” and “Beautiful Girls” with Frank, harmonizing and stunning the crowd. For the finale, Frank accompanied his roommate and best friend, Craig, as they performed one of their favorite tunes, “Bright Lights.” Though each act was enjoyable in its own way, my favorite performance by far was by Shannon, a proud member of the UMass marching band, who gargled the UMass fight song. It was quite the spectacle.
The night was filled with laughter, camaraderie, and genuine talent. Events such as this help make the nights in Haiti feel like home. No matter what school they come from, events like this bring the group together and can be enjoyed by our local hosts. While YSI is focused on our mission for community development during the day, we enjoy carrying over our positive energy, hosting our very own Haiti’s Got Talent at night.