YourStory International always welcomes new advocates. As our veteran advocates graduate, we look forward to getting new students involved in our programs. We recently started using online training to make sure all of our advocates understand our mission statement, safety standards, and eneral expectations. Each advocate completes a city module, our specialized curriculum that helps them understand the social and behavioral differences between Haiti and the USA.
This module also includes research ethics. Because we work so closely with human subjects, our advocates learn ethical rules for conducting interviews, designing research projects, respecting local power structures and culture, and doing research meant to benefit the locals. This training allows our advocates to collect data legitimately and respectfully. All advocates must complete the training and submit their certificate before they travel with us.
Lastly, each chapter’s officers conduct training at their weekly meetings. This includes a series of lessons on Haitian history prepared by UMass advocate Frank Schulze. We also cover travel logistics, examples of current and past empowerment cases, and pictures and descriptions of the food we eat there (it’s delicious and wonderful!). The chapter leaders also prepare us for the more quirky aspects of the expedition, such as living among chickens who wander around grazing all day, then miraculously return to their coop in the compound at night. We are continuously answering questions to the best of our ability, and when we don’t know something, we simply reach out to our board of directors, who are always available to share their extensive experiences traveling Haiti.
Of course, it is still different to experience life in Morel first hand, but having an idea of the lifestyle you will experience there is still helpful. Knowing what kinds of food you will be eating and what your sleeping arrangements will be are necessities we take for granted, and having realistic expectations for those comforts is reassuring. Understanding some basic Haitian history also allows you to further appreciate the kindness and pride with which we are welcomed into the Morel community. These people have overcome so much, yet they embody graciousness and hospitality, and it is very important to acknowledge and enjoy that.