FAQs

I don’t know any Creole. Is this the right program for me?

Yes. Our classes are small and are divided by level so that you learn with other people who have a similar language ability. Depending on your progress, your instructor may also suggest that a personal tutor be assigned to work with you one-on-one at no additional cost. Some students may be assigned an instructor for one-on-one learning at no additional cost.

I’m Haitian American and I speak some Creole. I just want to learn more.

Classes range from absolute beginner to advanced collegiate so there is a class for everyone. You may understand Creole well but struggle with grammar or writing. It is always possible to arrange a combination of tutoring and group work to meet your specific needs.

What methods are used for teaching?

We use a variety of teaching techniques. Lecture type instruction is used for short periods of time, sandwiched between activities such as role plays and translation practice. More active learning opportunities are integrated throughout the program including field trips. Homework is designed to reinforce material learned in the classroom.

What is the housing like at the dorms?

The dormitory is a comfortable, home-like setting in the Bon Repos campus. We have one house and two apartments available. If you are in a shared room you will be with people of the same gender. Bathrooms are shared and have running water. There is electricity (with occasional mid-day outages), WiFi, full kitchen facilities, dining space, and a community living room. Sheets, towels, pillows and blankets are provided.

Are meals included?

Short-term Creole students who are staying on campus or in a home-stay are provided with three meals per day. Lunch (typically the main meal of the day in Haiti) includes typical Haitian and North American foods including stews, pasta, soup, grain and bean dishes, and vegetables or salads. Breakfast options usually include hot or cold cereal, dried or fresh fruit, bread or pastries with eggs or cheese, yogurt, peanut butter, jam, and coffee, tea, milk, or juice. Haitian breakfast foods including spaghetti, dried fish, sweet potato and plantains are usually on hand as well.  Bottled water is always available in both sleeping and eating areas.  Since lunch is typically very large, dinner is a light meal of soup, pasta, or sandwiches. 

A full kitchen (including microwave, blender, panini press, toaster oven, and food processor) is available for student use. 

Our neighborhood has several “take out” food options including the local bar and two informal restaurants. Students who have alternative housing arrangements are welcome to bring their own food for lunch and keep it in the fridge. A microwave and cooking facilities are available. Lunch (typically roasted chicken and fried plantains) can also be ordered from the local bar. Off-campus students are welcome to eat the main meal on campus (just let us know that morning so the cook prepares enough food!) for a $5 fee.

Will I learn grammar?

Yes. The program includes reading, writing, and oral communication in addition to learning about culture and Haitian society. Grammar is, of course, important for learning any language. But don’t fear! Haitian grammar is very simple and easily to learn, even for adult language learners.

Who teaches the classes? What kind of qualifications do they have?

All language classes are taught by experienced language teachers. Tutors are usually specially trained university students, though some tutors are university graduates who are currently working on social science and public health research projects in Port-au-Prince.  Social science, social work and research methods classes held at ETS for students in our degree program are also open to Creole Language Institute participants. These classes are all taught by individuals with graduate degrees in their field of study; many have MAs or PhDs from North American or European universities.

Who can participate?

Although geared towards graduate students and professionals, everyone is welcome to attend. Participants will have the best time if they are flexible, willing to learn, and open to new experiences.

Can undergraduates participate in this program?

Yes. We have a separate program for groups of undergraduate students who are coming to Haiti on study abroad programs through their university. Individual undergrads can apply for the Creole Language Institute’s short or long-term intensive programs directly. Individual undergraduates will usually be grouped with others of a similar age and learning level, and thus, may spend their time with an existing study aboard group. Students who would like to get credit from a US university are invited to enroll in study abroad through the State University of New York

What is home-stay like?

Home-stay accommodations are with local families who have been pre-screened and trained to receive you as their guest. If you choose to live with a home-stay family you will live as the family does, sharing their living space. You may be surprised by the foods, décor, and complicated family relationships within the home. While you will have your own bed and an area to store your things some participants may find this kind of housing challenging, particularly regarding bathroom facilities (expect to use a bucket to shower and perhaps to flush the toilet as well), the lack of private space, and the lack of electricity. But for those who persevere, this is one of the best ways to improve your language skills and maximize your time in Haiti.

I live in Haiti and don’t need housing.

You are welcome to attend classes. You will only need to pay tuition. If you are coming to the long-term intensive program, you should be aware that the posted tuition includes housing. Please contact us directly to find out tuition that does not include housing costs.

What can I do in my free time?

Though we’ve built some free time into the schedule, most participants will likely find this time is taken up with napping, studying, email, etc.  People who want to hang out nearby can go for a walk, or spend time on at the guest house or on campus playing board games or watching DVDs. There is a a pool and a small gym on campus. There are numerous options for full and half-day trips from campus. Downtown Port-au-Prince is close by, though traffic during the week is often heavy. On Sundays traffic is lighter and travel to historical and cultural sites within Port-au-Prince is easy. Croix des Bouquet is the center of metal working activity. There you can visit with artisans in their homes and workshops and watch them transform metal oil barrels into complex works of art. Beaches are located roughly 60 minutes away from our location.

Do you take students with disabilities?

Yes. We have had students in the past with a variety of physical, learning, and emotional disabilities. However, our campus, like many places in Haiti, is not accessible for wheelchair users. Students with limited mobility may want to bring an assistant to help them navigate during their time in Haiti.  Accommodations include, but are not limited to, readers, hearing assertive devices, individual instruction, note-takers, and individual tutoring. Please let us know what accommodations you may need to participate in the course.

Do I need health insurance?

Yes. Most people get health insurance through AAA/CAA, the credit card or travel website they use to purchase their flight, or their organization or university. Recent students have reported a lot of success using WorldNomads.com.

I’ve heard Haiti is very dangerous. Is the area near the campus safe?

The greatest safety risk is, by far, traffic accidents. For this reason you should be mindful of cars when walking on the main road, avoid using moto-taxis, and never ride on the outside or top of a taptap (even if you see others doing this). If you take a taxi on your own, remember that you are the customer and can ask the driver to slow down or take another route. Most drivers will happily comply, though be prepared to pay a bit extra if an alternate route is longer or more hilly.

Like any big city, Port-au-Prince also has a lot of crime, particularly property crime. Crime has steadily decreased in Port-au-Prince since 2007 and random crimes against unknown persons are fairly rare. The precautions you take here are the same as those in other big cities: only go in groups when visiting clubs or bars, don’t leave your purse or backpack lying around, don’t go off with someone you just met at a bar even if they seem very nice, don’t flash your ipod or money around on the street, don’t give your contact information to people you don’t know, etc. Wallets should be kept in the front pocket and only contain that which is immediately needed. 

In most cases a student host will be accompanying you when you travel. It’s best to defer to the host; if he suggests that you stop talking to someone or avoid a particular place this is for your safety and comfort.  The area around the Bon Repos campus is quite safe and while you may get curious looks or friendly hellos from passersby, most people will leave you alone unless you look lost or in need of assistance. It is best for women to avoid walking alone at night and for people of both sexes to take a friend with them when going for a walk until they are familiar with the neighborhood.

What should I do if I need to leave campus?

Please make sure that an administrator knows how to reach you, who you will be with, where you are going, and when you plan to return. Let us know if you need help figuring out transportation, directions, or if you’d like an escort.

Since dinner isn’t usually included, what should I do about eating?

You can either order a meal from one of the local families for $3-5 US or you can go shopping and cook a meal for yourself. We have a fully stocked kitchen. You can also pay $5 USD to have the cook prepare a light Haitian-style meal for you.

I’m a vegan, will I have problems eating in Haiti?

As a vegan you’re probably used to making substitutions and sometimes going without. There are a number of foods you can eat in Haiti. The cook at the Bon Repos campus usually prepares rice and beans using meat-based seasonings, but with advanced noticed a number of foods can easily be prepared for vegans. Options include plantains, sweet potatoes, rice, beans, bean sauce, sandwiches, salads, grains, cornmeal, vegetable soups and stews, and fruit.

Is there wi-fi?

Yes. We use Natcom which is very reliable (by Haiti standards). Though our internet is fast, it is also shared, so we ask people to avoid using the internet for streaming video during high-use hours. Let us know if you need to teach a class or conduct important business online so that we can reduce the amount of elective internet use during that time. During occasional power outages, we use a small supplemental inverter system to keep the router on.

Can I come early? Can I stay late?

No problem!

What should I bring?

Generally you should bring clothing including 5-6 casual outfits and at least one more dressy “church” outfit. Clothing should be relatively modest. Though it is now culturally permissible for women to wear pants and shorts, both men and women should avoid shorts unless at the beach, a sports game, or a picnic. Those who wish to visit the gym should bring tennis shoes and at least two changes of gym clothes. Shoes should be durable and most people will appreciate having a spare pair of flip-flops or sandals to wear around the dorm. 

In addition to the regular personal care items normally used, you may also want to bring insect repellent, a water bottle, a money pouch that can be worn under the clothes, a flashlight in case you walk outside at night, an extra supply of pens and notebooks, a camera and a journal. Past students have recommended the following items: baby wipes, itch cream, antibacterial hand gel, snack foods that don’t melt or get crushed easily, canned soup for easy dinners, and card games. Some visitors also bring hard candies to give to children they meet or small gifts to give to those they have worked with before they leave.  You do not need to bring a towel, pillow, or linens, though some students bring their own anyway.

Can I visit my family in Haiti? Can I leave the program for a day or two to see a friend?

Yes. Obviously you’ll be missing out on material and course content if you leave during a class day but you are free to come and go. For safety reasons we ask that everyone leaving campus sign out with their expected time of return so that we don’t needless worry when you don’t come home at night.

Are my weekends free?

Yes. Optional field trips are arranged on the weekends including visits to areas of cultural and historical significance, religious ceremonies and recreational venues such as beaches and the national park. You are always free to skip these field trips if you choose.

What’s the schedule like?

Classes meet for about five hours total beginning at 9am and ending at about 4:30 pm. There’s usually a one and a half hour break in the middle of the day for lunch. Frequent short breaks are scheduled throughout the day.

I’m interested in doing an internship. Can I combine that with the language classes?

Yes. We can help you arrange for an internship in an NGO, social welfare agency, international organization, or business. While it is possible to shift your tutoring schedule around to accommodate a half day internship while you take classes, you may find that it works better to take one or two sessions of language classes and then stay for additional month or six weeks to do a full time internship.

How will we be getting around?

Local transportation will be by car, van, taxi or taptap depending on the situation. Most of the time you will ride a taptap (private bus) and will be accompanied by a student host. The host will help you learn the taptap routes so that you can get around on your own if you choose and will help assure that you don’t get lost or stranded. Taptaps are by far the most affordable method of transportation in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area and can get you to your destination as fast as driving in a private vehicle. Some participants may also elect to take moto-taxis or buy/rent a moto for their time in Haiti. While this may be a good option for an experience motorcycle rider, we generally advise against it as Haitian traffic is unpredictable and fatal moto accidents are frequent in the urban areas.

Is airport transportation available?

Yes. The cost is $30 per person with reduced rates for people arriving in groups.

What is included with tuition?

Tuition listed on the “Tuition & Fees” page includes classes, workshops, tutoring, field trips and university credit. Participants should bring spending money for personal expenses, eating out, extra outings on the weekends or evenings, and local transportation. We are not able to refund tuition or fees for students who do not complete their program or who cancel without 24 hour notice.

Will I get university credit?

You’ll receive undergraduate credit (1 credit unit for 13 hours of instruction) but not all universities will accept transfer credits. University students in the province of Ontario or the states of Michigan, Texas, Florida, Massachusetts, or California should contact us for special college credit arrangements.

Can you send me a packing list for the three week program?

Clothing

  1. Pants/Skirts
  2. T-shirts
  3. Smart casual shirts
  4. Dresses (if relevant)
  5. Shorts
  6. PJ’s and lounging around the house clothes
  7. Socks/underwear
  8. Swimsuit
  9. Warm jacket or sweater

Shoes

  1. Flip flops or sandals
  2. Sturdy walking shoes such as hiking sneakers or boots
  3. Nicer pair of shoes – women should avoid heels

Personal Items

  1. Toothbrush/toothpaste/mouthwash
  2. Deodorant
  3. Comb or brush
  4. Shampoo/Conditioner
  5. Body wash or soap
  6. Sunscreen
  7. Bug repellent
  8. Pads/Tampons (these are very expensive in Haiti)
  9. Bath Towel (optional)
  10. Wet wipes
  11. Hand sanitizing gel
  12. Medication if you need it (bring enough for your entire trip or make arrangements for someone to send it to you when you run out)

Stuff for Classes (if you are a student)

  1. Creole dictionary if you have one (otherwise you can buy one in Haiti)
  2. A notebook/pens/highlighters
  3. Index cards (100 for each week of class up to the first 8 weeks; 200 for each month after that)
  4. Rubber bands, ziplock bags or plastic index card boxes to organize your index cards
  5. Extension cord (if you plan to use a computer, tablet or other electronic device during class)

Optional Stuff for your Room

  1. A pillow if you want more than one for your bed
  2. Citronella candle
  3. Laundry bag
  4. Selection of snacks (granola bars, nuts, etc)

I made a reservation. Now I need to change my plans. Can I get a refund?

Unfortunately we aren’t able to give refunds for housing reservations which are cancelled within seven days or your start date or after you arrive. We have a limited number of spaces (both in the classes and for housing) so when we say yes to one person then we often have to say no to another. Also, a portion of what you pay for housing goes directly towards paying for the campus building itself. Since housing in quite expensive in Haiti, this provides essential income that allows the educational programs we operate for Haitian students to continue – without the modest housing fees from our Creole student guests, we wouldn’t have a campus from which to offer either Creole language programs or the university degree programs for Haitian students.

However, we understand that plans change. People get sick, aren’t able to secure vacation time from work, have emergencies, miss their flight, and sometimes just decide to put off their class until a more convenient time. If you cancel after paying for the program but at least seven days before the program starts, we are able to refund your tuition and housing minus the Paypal fee (if paid through Paypal).

If you cancel within seven days of your start date or after your start date, we can offer you a credit of the remaining funds to apply towards future language classes and housing.

For tuition-only reservations, a refund can be made (minus the Paypal fee, if applicable) as long as you cancel 24 hours in advance (if you cancel less than 24 hours in advance you’ll be charged for one day of instruction, pro-rated).

In situations where a change of plans is simply a change of dates, an early or late arrival/departure, or missed flight, we can generally accommodate your new dates. The earlier you tell us, the more likely it is that we can find a way to make things work for you. A change of dates is not an infrequent occurrence. It’s best if you tell us a soon as possible though as instructors, airport transfer drivers, and the like generally expect to be paid by us whether the student shows up as scheduled or not.

Why do I have to pay via Paypal?

You don’t. Paypal allows us to charge your credit card if you plan to pay via credit card. Otherwise you can pay via cash in advance. If this doesn’t work for you, please do let us know so we can help find an alternative solution.

Should I bring cash? How much money should I bring? Can I use my ATM card in Haiti?

Most students bring several hundred dollars in spending money for a 2-3 week stay in Haiti. Cash is easier to use than traveler’s checks, which are not readily accepted. ATMs charge a fee of 200-400 gourdes per transaction; your bank will likely charge an additional fee on top of this. A good alternative is to get a cash advance off of your bank ATM check card. Many US and Canadian banks do not charge an additional fee for this and the local bank will not charge for the service. You will, however, have to go to the bank and wait in line which can take a bit of time.

What’s the water situation? Do I have to take bucket showers? Is there hot water?

Like many large homes and buildings in Haiti, we have in-ground water cisterns and rooftop tanks. Our primary water source is a large well. Every other day or so, the guardian uses a gas- or diesel-powered generator and an electric pump to pump water into a rooftop tank. The force of gravity keeps water flowing through the pipes so that you can turn on the faucet, flush the toilet, etc. If you happen to turn on the faucet and no water comes out, please let us know so that we can have the guardian take care of it. The climate is warm in the Bon Repos location, so many choose to bathe with non-heated water. However, you are definitely welcome to heat water on the stove if you prefer a warm bath. Students who opt to do a home-stay should not plan on having any access to hot water for washing as this is not common in our area. 

I need to fill out a safety plan for my home institutions. What should I put down?

Here is an example from a recent graduate student. Items in italics should be deleted and text can be used to say if you decided to take that particular action (e.g., registering with the STEP website).

Address of Nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate:

http://www.usembassy.gov/ (American Citizen Services)

Embassy of the United States Port-au-Prince Haiti; Boulevard du 15 October, Tabarre 41, Tabarre, Haiti; Facsimile: (509) (2) 229-8027
Email: acspap@state.gov

Embassy Main Phone (include country + city code):

Telephone: (509) (2) 229-8000

Emergency After Hours Phone (include country + city code):

011-509-2229-8122

All visitors and residents should also register with the STEP website so that ACS can reach you in case of an emergency at home or in country. https://step.state.gov/step/

City/Country 911 Emergency Equivalent Number: The 911 number in Haiti is 116 from all phones. We strongly recommend that all visitors and those who are living in Haiti for a longer period of time sign up for HERO Client Rescue, a paramedic rescue service where American paramedics, nurses, and/or doctors provide pre-hospital emergency care and transportation. https://www.heroclientrescue.com/

Name and Address of Nearest Hospital:

Local English-speaking doctor that we use: Myrtho Marra Chilosi, MD   32, rue Metellus, Petionville 2257-1848  Email: chilosi-myrtho@iol.iit

 

Local Hospital: Hospital Bernard Mevs/ University of Miami): Blvd Toussaint Louverture, Village Solidarite # 2 after Haitian Tractor, turn at the Sol gas station.

 

Air Ambulance: Ayiti Air Ambulance, 10, Rue D, Parc Industriel SONAPIE, Port-au-Prince, Haiti Tel: 2812-8701 Website: www.haitiairambulance.org Facebook: Ayiti Air Anbilans; Twitter: @Haiti_Air_Amb

Phone (include country + city code):

Myrtho Marra Chilosi:  res: 2257-4535   Cell: 3558-7137 

 


Chief Medical Officer: Toni Eyssallenne Tel: 4404-4855; Chief Nursing Officer: Kate Corrigan Tel: 4890-1321; Hospital Directors: Marlon Bitar Tel: 3701-0149 and Jerry Bitar Tel: 3701-9717



In-Country Contact: Rod Reid, 509-4840-5803; Email: ron@haitiairambulance.org

 

What are the specific health and safety risks at your destination(s)? Resources include, but are not limited to:CDC: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/list.htm  State Department Travel Warnings: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/tw/tw_1764.html  State Department Country Profiles: http://www.state.gov/misc/list/index.htm

The risks include: crime, natural disasters, mosquito-borne illness, and water-borne illness

What strategies will you take to mitigate these specific health and safety risks?  

I will be staying in a modern home with electricity and running water.  I will not eat street food or anything without skin I can peel.  I will avoid contaminated areas.  I will consult with local citizens as well as Americans with many years of experience living in Haiti about mitigating these risks.  I will not travel unaccompanied.  I am bringing doctor-recommended insect repellent with DEET as well as a mosquito net to use in my room. I will maintain regular contact with family and friends at home to assure them of my safety in the event of an anticipated natural disaster (hurricane). If an unanticipated natural disaster occurs I will seek assistance from the US Embassy and notify my family that I am safe as soon as communication is restored.

What strategies will you take to mitigate other health and safety risks? (I.e. limited language; culture; possession and use of expensive equipment; etc.):

I am learning Haitian Creole and will be taking classes while I am in Haiti.  I do not intend to travel outside of the campus without a companion who is fluent in Creole and knows the country well.  I will be living and staying in one place, with school faculty who know the area and culture well and have spent many years in Haiti.  I will have my laptop with me but will keep it at the house.  I will not carry expensive items with me off of campus.  I will only swim with others who are sober and I will not drink alcohol before swimming.