As part of our commitment to education and advocacy for our community, GSI Haiti is able and excited to facilitate US high school and university student trips to Haiti. With convenient spring, summer and even winter break options, school groups have the opportunity to work with GSI’s staff to develop an itinerary that emphasizes cross-cultural exchange, French/Creole language immersion, field research, and service. We recommend groups of 7-12, including any chaperones. Contact us if your student group is interested in planning a trip to Haiti.
GSI emphasizes four themes in our student trips:
Our trips are designed to expose students to the complexities of Haiti by interacting with diverse sub-cultures in Port-au-Prince, Jacmel and Fond des Blancs. Options range from artisan communities, beachside towns, orphanages, internally displaced persons (IDP) camps, urban areas, historic towns, agrarian villages, wealthy neighborhoods, medical rehabilitation centers, etc. Our trips are such that we are usually able to accommodate most all activities with a menu of options for each type of experience.
- International Development,
- Politics & Governance,
- Environment, and more
These research methods will not only grow students’ knowledge of the issues, but can also serve as unique career exploration opportunities.
Speakers might include representatives from US government agencies, multilateral agencies, local or international NGOs, local or international businesses, etc. Additionally, students are highly encouraged to select sub-themes and prepare brief presentations to share with the group in Haiti, which will both challenge and enrich the overall student experience.
Every student group is accompanied by experienced US-based GSI staff and local Haitian staff to ensure the group’s safety. Additionally, groups will be given a pre-departure security briefing designed to equip students with the knowledge of how to prepare for and respond to potential security risks. School-sponsored chaperones are also welcome to join.
Note: In the two+ decades that GSI has facilitated group travel, we’ve never had a single instance of a health emergency or criminal activity (beyond petty theft of unattended property) occur on our watch. Even in the more politically-volatile years when volunteers have gone in, we’ve kept our teams safe while still allowing them a rich, full experience each time. Note as well that the perception of Haiti is vastly different than the actual experience of Haiti.
We recommend a trip length of 10-12 days, though we may be able to accommodate different trip lengths. Contact us with your preferences, and we will be happy to work with your student group to develop a schedule that fits your needs and interests.
The approximate total cost per student for a 10-day trip is $2,500 (assumes an airfare cost of $500).
- Food, lodging and travel in Haiti = $75 per day, per person*
- Donation to GSI Haiti’s programs = $1,250 per person
- Airfare = typically $500-$650 from the US East Coast *depending on the itinerary chosen, this figure can be as low as $50/day
Day One: Orientation
Arrive in Port-au-Prince. We will take a brief van tour of this lively capital, then head to the guest house for a traditional Haitian meal and an interactive orientation session with GSI’s staff.
Day Two: History and Culture of Haiti
In order to familiarize ourselves with what makes Haiti the country it is today, we must first take a step back and examine its history. On day two of the trip, we will visit the National Museum to view artifacts dating from the time that Haiti was a slave trade port, through its struggle for independence, and up until the modern day. The museum trip will be followed by a more intensive nontraditional sight-seeing tour of the city with a staff guide. We will cap the day off with a visit to Grand Rue artists village, one of the most popular artisan communities in Haiti, where students can interact with local artists and purchase one-of-a-kind pieces.
Day Three: Responding to Poverty in Haiti
Location: Port- au-Prince
Today we will explore the effects that poverty has had on the economy, family life, health, education, governance and the environment—and what Haitians and the International community are doing in response. Speaker and/or site visit options include:
• Local Advocacy/Civic Group (environment)
• Orphanage (child welfare)
• UN Mission (governance)
• Small business (microfinance/economy)
• Local and/or Int’l NGO (peace & security)
• University (agricultural development)
Day Four: More to Haiti
Location: Port-au-Prince to Fond des Blancs
We will depart Port-au-Prince for Fond des Blancs in the morning, stopping at key towns along the way. Students will particularly appreciate the ancient stone sculptures of Leogane and snacking on fresh peanut brittle—a local favorite in Petit-Goave. As we travel past vast mountain ranges, mango groves, small towns, and sparse villages, it will become clear that Haiti is much more diverse and rugged than what we witnessed in bustling Port-au-Prince.
Days Five through Nine: GSI Haiti’s Headquarters
Location: Fond des Blancs
We like to consider our stay in Fond des Blancs as the highlight of the trip. It is, after all, where GSI’s programs take place. Students will have the opportunity to interact with our Elementary School students and teachers, and witness our adult literacy and electricity/construction courses in action. During this time, students will be able to build relationships with community members, working with them side-by-side to prepare meals, learning about their daily lives in their own homes, going on nature hikes together, and exchanging phrases in English, French and Creole. Students will also have extensive time to conduct individual or team-based field work and perform community service.
During our time in Fond des Blancs, GSI will also arrange opportunities for students to scope out the local weekly market and visit our partner organizations including area schools, a very advanced hospital, and a women’s sewing cooperative.
Day Ten: Jacmel
Location: Jacmel to Port-au-Prince
We will wind down our whirlwind trip in this relaxing beach-side town and have the opportunity to visit various beaches, historic buildings, artisan shops and picturesque waterfalls (an area known as Bassin Bleu). Head back to the capital in the early evening.
Day Eleven: Back in the USA
Location: Port-au-Prince to US
We suggest taking an earlier flight out of Haiti to help mitigate potential travel delays.
* Any trip’s itinerary can include a trip up north to visit the historical monuments of Cap-Haitien