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Bonas is no longer just a small campus in Western New York (indeed, I question whether it ever really was "just" that but I digress).
We are everywhere. You know that. You have worn a Bona shirt and been stopped all around the world by alumni, by parents of current students, by friends, and even by former co-workers who wanted to say hi to a fellow Bonnie. Indeed we pride ourselves on being a big family.
It is one of the things I like about #Bonas. We are at once welcoming, trusting, and "one".
As the world changes and the grows more interconnected, the so-called BonaBubble (a term I have never liked) becomes more permeable. Online classes, service programs around the world, and study abroad programs have put Bonas in the center of everything. Put another way, the family aspect of Bonas has remained, but the isolation that comes from being on a small campus 90 minutes from a major airport has largely disappeared.
With online classes, University sponsored programs in the UK, Italy, and Brazil, and Bona people working in Haiti, the Bahamas, Liberia, Costa Rica, Uganda, and in so many other places in the world, the Bona Bubble and the Bona Family has grown to encompass much of the world. Something that happens anywhere really affects us all. There is no longer an us and a them, but just us.
While it is sunny and dry in Western New York, #HurricaneMatthew is already hitting Bonas.
Three stories. Each with Bonaventure ties.
1. Let me start with last night. I had an online class (MBA 517 for those of you keeping score), and a student had to miss class because he was in process of evacuating his family. He lives on the SE coast of Florida. (oh and he is a SBU alum too...class of '99). At times like that an MBA class sort of loses its importance. (BTW Thanks to Mike Hoffman it was recorded so he will not actually miss the class assuming power is not lost for long.)
2. Next story: The Bahamas. For what will be 14 years this coming January,Todd Palmer and his St. Bonaventure University Enactus crew have done great work there. This past January, I was fortunate enough to be a very small part of their program (basically I was a driver and a person who made all the others appear to be on time by my tardiness).
I have heard from a few people from that trip: Tony ( St. Bonaventure Alumni) and from some we helped and from those that have worked with the Bonaventure students for over a decade. They are hunkered down hoping their homes do not flood. Praying for #Matthew to leave. They are family.
3. My last story for now. As most of you know, for the past few weeks we have had Haitian friends on campus as part of BonasandBeyond. I am biased, but they were a great group. A wonderful group. People who are leaders in Haiti. People who are out helping others.
In the world view of some, bad things only happen to bad people. I completely and totally disagree. Bad things happen to all people at some time. If you ever doubt that, here is exhibit A. The people of Haiti. They are some of the best people I have ever met. Some of the most giving people I have seen. And yet they were hit hard by disaster after disaster. Not due to any fault of their own but that they were born in a country whose past violence and corruption have created an impoverished nation that is unable to withstand repeated natural disasters.
As I promised a story and not an economics lesson, let me tell you of Pierre Alex Dorziere He is pictured below while on campus. Indeed, he may have sold you a shirt if you were at Bonagany or he may have worked at your home (when the Haitians were here they worked at 4 homes in the local area as part of BonaResponds). He is a great guy. He heads our efforts in Microloans in Haiti and is the Les Cayes head ofHaitiScholarships. He left me his size nine boots as they were too heavy to carry on the plane when he left. He told me to give them to someone who needed them.
He almost didn't come to SBU because his wife is 8 months pregnant. Below are pictures of both Pierre and his wife. Look closely, you might notice the roof of their home is missing. He is family. The shirt he is wearing? Says that all people are people. Tout Moun Se Moun.
We can not help everyone that is affected by the hurricane. We can not help all who are affected by poverty. But we can help some. With your help we can help more people.
Let me end this post with a quote from Stephany Desgranges. She should have been on campus, but was unable to get a visa. Next year I hope she is on campus. She is a very smart woman from Petit Goave Haiti. This morning she sent some pictures and this quote that is says it better than I can:
"We're coming back from this thing. Hurricanes come and go.But the Haitian fighting spirit can never be defeated, No rains hard enough, no winds strong enough, no thunder loud enough. We rise again and again every time... with a wink and a smile. I am so proud of my people."
You can donate here: http://bonaresponds.org/donate.html
(note: we are also collecting school supplies, Tools, gardening tools, and soccer equipment for Haiti so if you do not want to donate money (first choice since easy to send and it helps the Haitian economy), please get involved in some way).
Don't want to give short term needs? Donate to HaitiScholarships and get more people in school so they can prevent future disasters.
It is too early to know if we can do a larger group trip to #Haiti. I expect to be going personally. Also remember the storm is not over yet. We still have the US coast line to worry about. Right now it is all too much uncertainty to know what the future holds.