Lac du Bois - Hackensack Blog

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Journée Haïti & Journée quatorze juillet

Published: July 13, 2019

As things draw to a close here at Lac du Bois, we’re lucky to have such engaging thèmes de la journée (themes of the day) to keep everything humming in spite of our inevitable au revoirs (goodbyes).

« Mwen sòti la vil Jacmel, ma prale la vale… » (“I left Jacmel, on my way to the valley…”) The words to this créole (Haitian Creole) tune have stuck in everyone’s head since our fabulous mono (counselor) Lénie taught it to us Thursday as part of Journée Haïti (Haiti Day). With the help of several villageoises (villagers) enrolled in our credit programs, monos brought Haitian music and dance to our typical salle à manger (dining hall) for the lunchtime sketch de repas (mealtime skit).

Throughout the day Thursday we were treated to delicious Haitian food, lively music and dance from the Caribbean nation. During dinner, for example, we feasted on fruit de l’arbre véritable (breadfruit), patates douces (sweet potatoes), bananes frites (fried plantains) and spicy poulet grillé (grilled chicken) – signature Haitian cuisine. Lénie, who is from Port-au-Prince, was so kind as to offer un coup de main (a helping hand) to our cuistos (cooks) behind the scenes!

For our veillée (nighttime activity), villagers organized their own Haitian Revolution in secret. Monos played either notable historical figures of the Revolution or French military guards and plantation owners; the goal was to pass several key logistical messages about revolutionary planning without letting the patrolling French guards know. Codes, gestures, music and elements of Vodou (the traditional religion of Haïti) all helped to discretely pass messages concerning the time and place of the Revolution.

By the end of the activity, villagers had formulated their own Déclaration de l’indépendence (Declaration of Independence) before we debriefed with further historical info concerning the Haitian Revolution.

Friday, we celebrated le quatorze juillet (July 14th) a couple days plus tôt que normal (earlier than usual). To invoke the feeling of France’s national holiday, villagers learned the lyrics to la Marseillese (the French national anthem), participated in a live-action fireworks show (with human fireworks!!!) and received (fake) euros to purchase second-hand goodies at a quintessentially French marché aux puces (flea market).

In addition to celebrating la fête nationale (the national holiday), Lac du Bois acknowledged the villagers, monos and cuistos who will soon be leaving the site this weekend. Our grand banquet and cérémonie de bérets (beret ceremony, where first-time villagers receive a classic béret lacduboisien) were only two of the many closing festivities. After the monos sang a special farewell song à la plage (at the beach), there were tears all around as villagers began saying their derniers (final) au revoirs to one another.

It has been a wonderful summer here at Lac du Bois Hackensack; I speak for everyone on staff when I say that we are so, so proud of our villagers’ many accomplishments in a short period of time. It’s with a heavy heart that we bid each other « A la prochaine… » (“See you next time”), but we can rest assured that it’s only until next summer. We hope that villagers stay in touch during the school year before they’re back at the French villages in 2020 for more French, more fun and more adventures. 

For pictures from Thursday, follow this link; for pictures from Friday, follow this link. Make sure to check back to see what shenanigans our migratrices (credit villagers abroad) get up to in France over the next two weeks!