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Duke offers Creole class for Haiti relief workers

Posted March 3, 2010
Updated March 4, 2010

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— As health care professionals, relief volunteers and military personnel try to help people in earthquake-devastated Haiti, some are encountering difficulty speaking and understanding the native Creole language.

To help, Duke University is offering a Creole course for those wanting to aid Haitians during the recovery.

Romance languages Professor Deborah Jenson organized the class, called "Haitian Creole for the Haitian Recovery.”

“It turned out to be such a great need,” she said. “Creole really is the language spoken by all Haitians. Some Haitians speak French, but not very many. But Creole is the language that relief workers will be encountering.”

Students enrolled in the class say understanding Creole will help greatly as they get involved with Haiti relief efforts.

“Being a French speaker and someone who wants to work in disaster relief, it was something I picked up and was interested in,” University of North Carolina graduate student Jessica Feingold said.

UNC anthropology student Laura Wagner, who helps teach the course, was in Haiti when the earthquake struck on Jan. 12.

“I was buried for a couple hours, and my friends got me out,” she said.

Wagner said anyone thinking about going to Haiti to help should take a Creole course.

“What I would like to see is for something like this to be an integral part of preparation for the ongoing relief efforts by the universities in the area,” she added.

Many area relief workers are taking Duke’s Creole course. You don't have to be a college student, but you do need permission from the instructors. Contact Duke University for more information.

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  • Phrostbite Mar 4, 2010

    When does the course start/meet? How much is the course? Is it just me or are these some very basic things that should've been ask for this story?