Students from Haiti fear for their families, friends

Judy Rose Pierre is president of The Haitian Culture Club. Photo courtesy Pierre.

Just weeks following the assassination of the president of Haiti, a magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck the Tiburon Peninsula on Aug. 14.
It caused devastation on the island, and students in Tallahassee with family in Haiti have been anxious ever since.

Born and raised in Haiti, Jasula Jeannot is a Florida State University graduate. She was a victim of the earthquake that struck Port-au-Prince on Jan. 12, 2010. At age 11, Jeannot was living in the capital of Haiti when the earthquake hit.

Her best friend was killed in the earthquake, and she said it was difficult to cope following the traumatic experience.
“We had to move on without really healing. We didn’t really have to talk about the incident; everyone one was in survival mode,” Jeannot said.

According to statistics, The Haitian Civil Protection Agency recorded 2,284 fatalities following the 7.2 magnitude earthquake on Aug. 14. More than 130,000 homes were damaged or destroyed, with 12,763 people wounded.

Coming to the United States in 2011, dealing with anxiety and not being able to shake the visual reminder of the earthquake, Jeannot said she still copes with her anxiety from re-living the terror of the earthquake.

“Even after I came to the United States in 2011, there was a lot of anxiety I had to deal with. I didn’t know where to start, but when I started seeing a therapist, I realized a lot of it had to deal with healing,” Jeannot said.

Hearing about the earthquake brought on a sense of grief for some students at FAMU. It reminded Judy Rose Pierre, president of The Haitian Cultural Club, of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and how much devastation it did and how long it took them to recover.

“I immediately got in contact with my mother, who was already in the works of talking to her family and continuously checking in on them and hearing their voices and actually asking them how they are doing,” Pierre said.

The Haitian Cultural Club is a Tallahassee-based community group that works to bring together Haitian-Americans and Haitian-related individuals. At FAMU and FSU, they work hard to create and maintain a family bond via events, activities, and interactions with members and others.

Jeannot encourages students who are affected negatively by recent events in Haiti to talk about their stories. She recommended the many services available. The Office of Counseling Services at FAMU invites students to schedule an appointment where they can discuss academic and personal difficulties in a safe environment. For more information, you can visit OCS on FAMU campus in the Center for Access and Student Success building Suite 304, or call 850-599-3145.