Day 16. A great teaching opportunity

Today we picked up our instruments in Cap-Haitian, Fort Liberte, and Milot, checked that our GPS in Saint Raphael was recording data, then set up GPS receivers in Hinche and Mirebalais – it was a very long day, but very rewarding. In Milot, the school next to the field hospital was back in session. With the permission of the principal, we took the opportunity to talk with several classes of high school students about the causes of earthquakes, what happened on Jan 12 in PaP, and what the students should do in the case of an earthquake. Macly translated for us. The school teacher drew a map of Haiti on the blackboard and showed them where the active faults are located. We talked about building codes, and the importance of building sound structures, which are greatly lacking in Haiti. One can hope that some of these students will some day be in positions of leadership and will be able to improve the manner in which houses are built here. The students were very attentive and asked us many very good questions: Can we predict when the next earthquake will occur? (No, no one can know when the next earthquake will occur). Why do buildings fall down but not trees? (Trees are flexible and have a good root system). Can the ground open up and swallow us? (No). Did the US military cause the earthquake? (No). The students were particularly interested in what to do when the earthquake occurs (get outside if possible or get under a strong desk or door frame if they can’t get outside), and pursued this to the point of asking happens if the ceiling does fall on them, to which there is no good answer. It is a difficult balance to educate about such real hazards without causing alarm. After we expressed our sympathies for the tragedy of Jan 12, they were incredibly gracious to us for coming to speak to them. As we departed one of the students told us that Jesus knows everything, and if we talked to Jesus he will tell us when the next earthquake will occur, and then we can tell them. Andy stated that Jesus does not talk to him, to which they laughed and said that he should try. To which Andy said he would try for them, which seem to please them very much.

Teaching about earthquakes and our field work.

Attentive and inquisitive students.

Andy and Sarah

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