US & World

Creole Class Preps Volunteers Headed To Haiti

Duke University is offering a class in Haitian Creole to help volunteers headed to Haiti. Those teaching the course say that helping volunteers overcome the language barrier is one of the best ways to help them see victims as more than objects of need and desperation.

Thousands of relief workers, health professionals and military personnel are moving in and out of Haiti to help survivors of the earthquake-ravaged country. But one problem some have had is the language barrier. So Duke University has created a last-minute course for those who are preparing to help Haitians during the recovery.

The class, "Haitian Creole for the Haitian Recovery," was organized by romance languages professor Deborah Jenson, who continues to get calls from people wanting to sit in. "They all have different plans or ideas of how this is central to their learning or to their upcoming activities in Haiti," Jenson says of those enrolled in her class.

University of North Carolina doctoral student Laura Wagner and others who are teaching the class that say one of the best ways to help sensitize relief workers headed to Haiti is to introduce them to the language.

“I would like for people to go in with a nuanced and human view of Haitian people as something other than objects of help and intervention," Wagner says. Copyright 2010 WUNC-FM. To see more, visit