Arielle Duperval, A.B. ’12, was among the University of Miami students working on a youth initiative in Haiti when the 2010 earthquake struck. Unlike the other students, Duperval, a sophomore at the time, had family living in the country and had been to Haiti before.
Within days of the quake, she and her fellow 'Canes had been flown back to the United States to safety. But for Duperval, leaving Haiti was merely a physical act. “The rest of my time at UM,” she recalls, “I just wanted to graduate as soon as I could and go directly to Haiti to contribute. I felt I was spared for that purpose.”
Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in international studies and a minor in Spanish, Duperval did just that. She received an internship with Catholic Relief Services to work in Haiti as a communications officer. After her internship, she stayed on in Haiti as a project manager for a nonprofit called Sow a Seed and volunteered for Haiti's YWCA.
“I had promised myself after the earthquake that I would go back to Haiti and contribute in any way I could,” she says. “I could not refuse these opportunities.”
Duperval lived in Haiti for two and a half years following graduation. Her grandparents and father still live there, and she stays in touch with her friends there, old and new.
It is so rich in culture and just so beautiful. I hope people look beyond the negatives. Haiti has a lot to offer.
She says that while more can always be done, “people are taking great initiative to remove the negative image people have of Haiti. I believe they have been effective thus far in doing so. I hope that not only the perception of Haiti will change for the better but that Haiti itself will continue to change for the better.”
She cites work done by Project Medishare and L'Hopital Bernard Mevs as part of the positive progress she's seen since the earthquake. “Project Medishare was irrefutably a great and necessary presence after the earthquake,” she says.
Asked what she wants people to understand about Haiti, she responds, “There is still a long way to go. I encourage people to do their own research, maybe even go to visit. It is so rich in culture and just so beautiful. I hope people look beyond the negatives. Haiti has a lot to offer.”