When Jean Luc Blanc boarded the airplane in Haiti, he knew this was it. He was finally fulfilling his dream of traveling to America to learn new farming techniques and to explore the culture. While the airplane was preparing for take off, Blanc sat back in his seat feeling very anxious. Since this was Blanc’s first time traveling out of Haiti, he was not sure what to expect about this new experience. He knew he was on this adventure by himself, without any of his friends, classmates or family. Although he didn’t know too many details about where he was going, he looked down at a piece of paper to see the address of his new home for the next couple of months, knowing he would have an experience of a lifetime.
“I felt so excited but different; I didn’t have any friends or family. By the third plane, I felt very alone. There were no Haitians around. I was the only black person on the plane, Blanc chuckled.” Blanc elucidated about his adventurous journey from Haiti to New Hampshire, calling it “difficult but so perfect.”
When Blanc arrived at the airport in the United States, he approached a security guard to ask where he could find a payphone to call his host. Out of the corner of his eye, Blanc saw his CAEP host and another trainee. “I thought I was going to have to ask everyone at the airport if he or she were my boss. I was so relieved. It was great to see my boss right away waiting for me!” As his nerves settled and the excitement poured in, away Blanc and his CAEP host went to begin his horticulture internship at Trombley Gardens in Milford, New Hampshire.
Blanc is ecstatic to share his experience with his friends and family back home in Haiti. “The United States does everything huge. We don’t have the large pieces of equipment and tools in Haiti that farmers in the United States use.” Blanc said one of the biggest differences between farming in the United States and Haiti is how and what people incorporate into their farming practices. “In Haiti, farmers use their hands, in the United States farmers use big machines. I would like to see this in my country, but unfortunately, my country is poor and it is very unlikely.”
In addition to learning new farming techniques, Blanc has learned so much about the American culture and the cultures of his fellow roommates. “I learned how to create harmonization. If your roommate can’t understand you, it can be very difficult. In the end, we are friends and I even learned how to speak a little Russian too.” Blanc even taught his roommates French vocabulary!
Blanc’s roommate were from all over the world and they often compared farming practices and techniques from their home countries. They even gave each other advice and little tips on how to harvest and farm more efficiently! “My roommate explained how they harvested vegetables in his country, and I shared how we harvested vegetables in Haiti!”
Blanc is very excited about returning to Haiti to implement some of his new farming practices he learned at the Trombley Gardens. “I was so happy to have this experience to learn about agriculture and culture. I am also so glad I had the chance to meet and learn from my awesome host and his family.”
Blanc shares some words of advice for any future CAEP participants, respect others and your roommates, do your best, and be a hard worker. “I remember my father once told me, ‘everything you do, do it good.’”