Friday, September 25, 2015

Bona and Beyond day 1

Well yesterday was an adventure. Two missed flights in Atlanta, one missed flight in Port au Prince, bags that went to Denver and another that was seemingly lost to a seat mate made for an "interesting" day. And by interesting you can use words like stressful as well as enlightening, and eye-opening.

Travel with no cell phones, in a foreign land, can be rather stressful (at least for those of us picking up the travelers!). NY time and speed is a little different than #Haiti time :) We learned the difference repeatedly yesterday, but by the end things were going well.

A HUGE HUGE thank you to everyone who stepped in and ran the Welcome Program as I was relegated to waiting (and hoping the wait was not in vain!) for the late arrivals. IT SIMPLY COULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED WITHOUT YOU! (I will assuredly miss some, but here are a few: Jen, Jovani, Diana, Carol, Naudia, Reed, Logan, and of course Todd for driving). Simply can not thank you enough. MESI!

I have much more to write, but out of time for now. Here is the audio from last night's presentation where everyone introduced themselves.
my intro (I was trying to whisper as afraid to wake others (not yet used to dorm life!)
On tap: Today: 

9:45 campus tour
11:30 in Swan: Official SBU WELCOME. Come on out!
1:00 Special Olympic discussion (How we can help expand Special Olympics in Haiti)
2:00 Boating trip (Closed to Public for lack of space)
9:00 "All Hands" meeting.


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Bonas and Beyond! It's about to get real!

This is going to be a huge event for BoanResponds and the Haitians who are coming. As a learning and cultural exchange event, it is definitely the biggest thing we have attempted. (it dwarfs food packing events in scope, work, and impact).

While we did not get everyone here due to VISA issues (will try earlier next year), we have a good group of 14(maybe 13--just heard today one may not be coming) Haitians who will be coming to SBU for almost 3 weeks.

The program/schedule is below. As you will see, the idea is to learn while doing. And we will be doing a great deal! Indeed, sleep is one thing we may not have much of!

We have classes (economics, finance, Environmental Science, Marketing, leadership, and political science), Seminars (Educational goals, science packs (TBD), International Law, Childhood nutrition, irrigation usage, water filters, a talk on Francis, and a few others WE HOPE), Fun trips (Niagara Falls, Allegany State Park, Chautauqua Lake), learning trips (Olean Wholesale, Park and Shop, Napoleon Engineering, SolePoxy, and Canticle Farms),BonaResponds work days (Bonagany BonaganyWarming House, a car wash for HaitiScholarships, a wheelchair ramp, painting, trail work at minimum), and fun/fitness activities (Soccer, Yoga, hiking). Oh and if the weather allows, we hope to view the lunar eclipse too smile emoticon

In any downtime, we hope to be picking up some Creole too! (You will soon start to see flyers around campus with come Creole words that may be useful). Please make our friends feel welcome and say hi!

You can get involved and come to most of the activities as you can (trips are problematic as we still need drivers--so get approval before planning on jumping in the van for Niagara Falls). And if anyone (or any group) wants to help pay for a dinner etc, we'd love to do so! If nothing else you should plan on coming to the welcomes (7:00 pm on Thursday, 11:30 on Friday, the event at the Olean Public Library, and the October 8th "party and wrap up" in Francis Hall's San Damiano room. (but please come to other events too!)

Still also trying to get some school visits scheduled and would love a solar power seminar, but they are not definite yet.

Two issues (the main one is a lack of drivers) and also we have fewer people than we had expected, so breaking up to go to various schools is more of a problem. But we do hope to get to some local schools.

A huge thank you to the SBU Events planning, Housing, and all of the volunteers who have agreed to teach, host, and lead the students and overall make this great event possible.

Much of the material will be available online for those who could not get VISAs as well as the many who could not afford to come, so we also need people to record and video events.

From FB. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Updates on Bonas and Beyond

Haitian hurrah | The Bona Venture | St. Bonaventure's student-run newspaper since 1926:

"The Haitian group will be at the university from Sept. 23 until Oct. 12. The students are staying for three weeks as a new branch of BonaResponds, called “Bonas and Beyond.” This program, “Bonas and Beyond: Haiti,” aims to create a cultural experience for students from Haiti, according to the program’s pamphlet. The students will participate in a variety of non-credit courses, including classes in accounting, political science, computers and leadership, environmental science, economics and marketing and finance. "


Here is a pamphlet explaining what we are doing at Bonas and Beyond:

Here is a clip from SBU TV

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Bonas and Beyond schedule is taking shape!

Our schedule for Bonas and Beyond is taking shape!  Really filling up.  Going to be a busy 3 weeks!  Things you definitely want to come out for:

Thursday Sept 24, 7pm Welcome to WNY!  An overview and introduction to everything that is to come and a quick immersion into Haiti.   Swan (tentative location)

Friday Sept 25, 11:30 Bonaventure Welcome!  (somewhat a repeat of the 24th, but with official welcomes from School of Business Dean Carol Fischer and SBU President Sister Margaret Carney) Free Pizza. Swan.

Wednesday Sept 30, 7pm Olean Public Library: A talk on Haiti and how we can help.

Thursday Oct 8 Presentations on Haiti and discussion of next steps (MAYBE with a dinner)  Stay tuned for times and places.

We also have many classes (from Accounting to Environmental Science, Political Science to Legal Environment and even finance :) )

Weekends will largely be BonaResponds workdays.  We also have trips planned to Chautauqua Lake, Niagara Falls, Allegany State Park (we hope), the Olean Park and Shop, Olean Wholesale Group, Canticle Farms, and Napolean Engineering.  (Have other ideas?  Let us know in comments).

Many other tentatives but getting everything in is proving to be difficult.

1. We still really need drivers!  for all times.  BIGGEST NEED!
2. We would love some people groups to sponsor dinners. They do not need to be fancy.  Potlucks, BBQ, or if you want let the Haitians experience a US restaurant!
3. We are trying to get people to schools to speak, but we lost a driver during the day so it is proving more difficult.
4. Also we are looking for "adults" to RA for a night or two and be available if any problems arise (stay in dorms).
5. We hope to run a car wash fund raiser for HaitiScholarships when they are here (ideally Sept 26th---REALLY NEED SOMEONE to take ownership of it!)
6. We also want to get local soccer teams involved to have a a collection of used soccer equipment for programs in Haiti.  (if you know of anyone who plays soccer--or played soccer and might have some old equipment laying around, let us know!)

Today is the second big day for interviews with the Ambassade des États-Unis, Port-au-Prince (Haïti) .  We have written letters etc and we really hope that all participants are given an OK to come to campus!

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Bonas and Beyond Press release from SBU :)

St. Bonaventure to host 20 Haitian
students this fall; volunteers needed

ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y., Sept. 2, 2015 — St. Bonaventure University will be hosting 20 students from Haiti over three weeks this fall for cultural and educational exchange.

Volunteers from the campus and community are being sought to serve as drivers, campus hosts, tour guides and translators. Donors are also being sought to pay for a meal on campus or at a local restaurant, or for local church groups or community organizations to host a potluck supper.

Jim Mahar, associate professor of finance and founder of the student relief group BonaResponds, is coordinating the program, called “Bona’s and Beyond: Haiti.”

People interested in helping can contact Mahar at or by calling him at 585-376-0231.

“This will be the kickoff of ‘Bona’s and Beyond,’” Mahar said. “The first step will be a series of classes and seminars when the Haitians are here.”  The classes will include a range of business disciplines, as well as environmental science, computer science, political science and leadership as well as seminars on composting toilets, solar power, and other topics that will have an immediate impact in Haiti. 

This is more than just a one-way classroom experience, he said. Haitian students will also be presenting seminars about their own work, from their experiences working in orphanages and schools to their efforts in reforestation and gardening.
“We really want to stress it is a cultural exchange.  This is not just us teaching them, it is a two-way cultural exchange that fits perfectly with our Franciscan heritage and mission of respect,” said Dr. Carol Fischer, dean of the School of Business.

“It is a learning exchange that will also take place outside of the classroom. Haitian participants will go to local businesses and farms, tourist sites, and museums,” she said. “‘Bona’s and Beyond’ will also be making presentations at local schools and to community groups.”

St. Bonaventure student groups are active in many countries.

“BonaResponds works in Liberia and Haiti, Embrace it Africa works in Uganda, and ENACTUS has a long-running business and education program in the Bahamas,” said Dr. Todd Palmer, associate professor of management and adviser for ENACTUS. “What we want to do is to use these ties to bring our model of two-way learning and cultural exchange to more people.”

After the program this semester with Haitian students, Mahar said, “We will be launching an online, not-for-credit learning program to help educate people while also making friends and associates from around the globe.”

“This will be a great way for Bonaventure students to develop a better understanding of the issues facing people in developing nations and also to drive home that Olean is not in the middle of nowhere, but it is the center of everywhere,” he said.

The classes will be taught on a volunteer basis by professors, students, and experts from the Bonaventure community. The classes will be in English and available online for free with a November start date expected.

Haitian students participating are responsible for the costs of travel to and from Western New York, but funding from the Pacioli Scholars program, SBU School of Business and BonaResponds will finance the program when they’re here.


About the University: The nation’s first Franciscan university, we believe in the goodness of every person and in the ability of every person to do extraordinary things.  St. Bonaventure University cultivates graduates who are confident and creative communicators, collaborative leaders and team members, and innovative problem solvers who are respectful of themselves, others, and the diverse world around them. Named the #3 best college value in the North by U.S. News and World Report, we are establishing pathways to internships, graduate schools and careers in the context of our renowned liberal arts tradition. Our students are becoming extraordinary.    

A huge thank you to Tom Missel for this!!