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Hendrix Students Learn about Little Haiti on Miller Center Trip

urban green works group shotCONWAY, Ark. (June 14, 2016) – Ten Hendrix students and staff traveled to Miami, Florida, for a week of service and learning. The experience was sponsored by the Miller Center for Vocation, Ethics, and Calling at Hendrix.

The student participants included:

  • Blair Caussey ’16
  • Miranda Donakey ’18
  • Elizabeth Dye ’16
  • Sara Dyslin ’18
  • Liz Forrester ’16
  • Caitlyn Hendrickson ’17
  • Jeffrey Scott ’16
  • Allison Monroe ’19
  • Pratheepa Ravikumar ’17
  • Matthew Tran ’17

Miami Service Learning Allison and EgpytThe Hendrix group, hosted by the Center for Community Initiatives at Barry University in Miami Shores, learned about the culture and people of Little Haiti through a tour of a local high school, a visit to the Little Haiti Cultural Center, and conversations with Haitian immigrants about their experiences coming to the United States.

The rest of the week was spent working in the garden for Urban Greenworks in Liberty City, tutoring children and getting ready for Haitian Flag Day at the Little Haiti Optimist Club, touring the Historic Beach Preservation at Virginia Key Beach, engaging in the Café Cocano coffee cooperative in Port-de-Paix, Haiti, and learning traditional dance from Haitian-American youth at the Gang Alterantive BLOC program.

The end of the trip was spent at a local festival at the Little Haiti Cultural Center enjoying music, dancing, and food.

“I'm very grateful for being able to go on this trip,” said Tran. “Although I was supposed to go and help others on this trip, my interactions with them helped me learn more about myself, service, and other cultures as well. The food, fun, and fellowship were also great. 10/10 would recommend.”   

“I was not sure what to expect when we first arrived in Miami, but what transpired was a wonderful and meaningful week full of both active service with different organizations and learning about the life and culture in Little Haiti,” said Forester. “I came away fulfilled in terms of service work, more knowledge about a place and a culture, relationships with those we met, and a deeper sense of what it means to be active in one’s community.”

“The mission trip to Little Haiti in Miami, Florida was incredibly informative. The diverse activities included learning about the immigration from Haiti, the diverse Haitian culture, and the mission work being done in Haiti. I learned about the importance of knowing about a community and its history when doing service work in an area. It is vital to the community that the ideas come from them, instead of outside resources imposing,” said Donakey. “I gained understanding about the importance of buying items that have direct or fair trade so every party distributing a good is treated appropriately. I left this trip having gained insights about Haiti, United States politics, and with a personal desire to learn and research a variety of topics so I could become a better citizen.”   

“For the students, faculty, and staff attending mission trips through the Miller Center, we try to ‘flip the switch’ on our previously held ideas of service work,” said Hendrix Chaplain Rev. J.J. Whitney ’96, who accompanied the students along with Jay Burling ’03, Director of Web Applications. “Instead of the goal being how many meals were served or if we built a house at the end of the week, the lasting impact is truly on the relationships we’ve formed with members of the community and how much they impact us by their stories, their experiences, their culture, and their perspectives on the world. In Little Haiti, we became acquainted with a sub-culture in the United States where immigrant families are trying to make lives better for the next generation while retaining the beauty of their culture.”  

The Miller Center will sponsor three service-learning trips in 2017: Eleuthera Island (January 8-15); Birmingham, Alabama (May 14-20); and Washington D.C. (May 14-20). Applications for these opportunities will be available beginning July 15, 2016.

About the Miller Center

Established in 2008, the Miller Center for Vocation, Ethics, and Calling provides resources and programming for Hendrix College students, faculty and staff to explore the work and life to which they are called, the vocation that will fulfill. For more information, visit

About Hendrix College

Hendrix College is a private liberal arts college in Conway, Arkansas. Founded in 1876 and affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884, Hendrix is featured in Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think about Colleges and is nationally recognized in numerous college guides, lists, and rankings for academic quality, community, innovation, and value. For more information, visit