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Joanna Peders’ Experience in Haiti by Christy Blevins


Christy Blevins


Over the summer, Roanoke sophomore, Joanna Peders, took a ten day volunteer based adventure to Haiti. Peders and a friend joined a church group from Indiana and embarked on a service trip to aid a Vacation Bible School in Haiti.

The task for Peders and the rest of the group involved assisting in running the Vacation Bible School for the surrounding community. They additionally worked with children in a Haitian orphanage. For the first couple of days, Peders and the group played and socialized with the children. Once the VBS officially started, they taught lessons to the children. According to Peders, “Once [the VBS] started, it was more about building relationships. We taught lessons and hygiene lessons [to the children].” Peders compared this to being like a “guest speaker” at the VBS.

Peders personally taught a lesson on the Story of Lazarus to the children and had a “really awesome” experience. Through her experience with service and socializing in Haiti, Peders has come back home with a lot of reflections about the differences between life in America and that of the third world; in particular, one of her many experiences is that of not having her cell phone for ten days. “Because I couldn’t turn it on, I didn’t have to think about communicating, and it was really nice,” said Peders.

Experiencing this different culture and volunteering gave Peders a new insight and strengthened her desire to continue service based travel. Peders definitely plans to try to go back to Haiti and volunteer again. She hopes to return with the same Indiana church group at some point and is also planning to take a year off between graduating college and attending graduate school. During this break, she hopes to become a part of Peace Corps or AmeriCorps and be placed in Haiti or a Spanish speaking country. Peders hopes her major in Psychology will help her in the future if she runs across language barriers again. Then, she will be able to infer and understand more.

To learn more about Peders and her experience in Haiti, feel free to e-mail her with any questions: jrpeders@mail.roanoke.edu.