Thursday, June 12, 2014

One Little Picture Book and an Author Visit

It is gratifying to know that one of my books might change the life direction of even one reader.

And too a good reminder of the difference an author visit can make.

The power of words, of books and sharing and reading can be awesome!

Dear Ms. Williams,

My name is Laura Scherb, and I am a rising junior at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA. Growing up, I attended Heritage Elementary in the Franklin Regional School District, where one year, you were a visiting author. I very distinctly remember reading your book Tap-Tap and becoming enamored with the idea of Haiti. I interrogated my mom to see if that was where the car that we had just sold went (it wasn't) and imagined painting our new van to be a tap-tap car in Murrysville (I didn't). Instead, I declared that I was going to move to Haiti and be a French teacher there (using the French that I had yet to learn), and for a year, that's what I told people I was going to do when I grew up.

The years passed, and I forgot about Haiti. When the earthquake hit, I was upset to hear that so many lives were lost or changed forever, and I think I half-heartedly helped with a bake sale to "do my part." I promptly forgot about Haiti and went about my life in a bubble.

The next time I thought about Haiti was during my first day of classes at CMU, in fall of 2012. Everyone in the humanities college here is required to take a freshmen seminar, and mine happened to be all about The Uses and Abuses of Haiti, modeled after Paul Farmer's book. The class engaged me, and all of the sudden, Haiti didn't seem that far away at all. By happy accident, I found out that my RA had been to Haiti three times in high school and was interested in helping me to get a group together to travel there.

 A year later, after wading through wads of red tape from the university's side of things, we were an officially recognized organization on campus and on our way to Port-au-Prince. We spent spring break there in March of 2014 working with several schools, women's rights groups, and refugee camps in Port-au-Prince and the surrounding areas. We donated over $6000 and worked with the groups to find out how we could better equip them to accomplish their missions. We returned to Pittsburgh in the middle of a snowstorm, fired up and determined to make a difference.

The world is such a small place, especially where Pittsburgh and Haiti are concerned. I was so excited to learn that we have mutual friends in Haiti and in Pittsburgh, especially since it was you who inspired my love of Haiti so long ago. I would be honored to be featured on your blog, and I wouldn't mind at all if you used my name. I would welcome any questions about our group (CMU in Haiti), our work in Haiti, or my journey that was propelled by your book.

Best wishes, and thank you for captivating me with your words,

Laura Scherb

1 comment:

anne-louise fortin said...

Très intéressant de vous lire. Je porte Haïti dans mon coeur après avoir vécu et travaillé sept ans avec les Haïtiens et Haîtiennes. J'en ai toujours long à raconter. Je vous souhaite bonne chance dans votre engagement: vous en récolterez beaucoup, j'en suis persuadée car les HaïtienNEs sont riches de coeur.
anne-Louise Fortin, Québec, Canada