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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Bridges and Borders

Bridges and Borders

At the UMass Boston campus we have large populations of students with Haitian and Dominican descent. Each group has created a club on campus that seeks to support students from their respective cultures and promote awareness of their roots, traditions, and histories.

In strengthening the bonds within cultures, both clubs recognize the need for the Dominican Republic and Haiti to work together to improve the lives of their people here and abroad.

The Haitian American Society of UMB (H.A.S.) and the Dominican student group Club MANGU (Moving Ahead Never Give UP) have teamed up for the first time ever to bring a unique forum to campus that seeks to soothe animosity between the two nations.

H.A.S. president Alain Menelas, feels that their homeland’s disconnect a historical issue of perspective. “In the past, Haiti pretty much colonized DR. The Dominican Republic took its independence from Haiti, not from Spain so what’s being taught in school sometimes over there is that us Haitians want to come back to the Dominican Republic and bring it under our flag.”

In short, many of the divisive attitudes that exist in the Dominican Republic are due to institutions such as schools that train youth to take a defensive approach to the migrations of Haitians to their country. This suspicious attitude toward migrants leads to deep mistrust between the two cultures.

A lot of the misunderstandings stem from the imbalance of economic power between the two countries as the Dominican economy is stronger and impoverished Haitians head for the border to find work.

Alain commented, “Between Haitian Dominican relations we have been the victims most of the time… We contribute a lot to the economy which in a lot of ways people tend to forget.”

Berlinda Mojica, the president of MANGU said, “I wouldn’t say that Haitians are victims from Dominicans in entirety. There are certain things that do affect the Haitian people a lot but I don’t think that every [problem] is the fault of the Dominican Republic.”

Club M.A.N.G.U. was created by a group of students who wish to increase the enrollment of Dominican students at UMB, offer support networks to promote personal and professional development, and to host events to positively represent their culture while fostering new friendships.

Last spring, working with Gissell Abreu and the New Bedford-based Organization Maya K’iche, members of Club MANGU brought Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Rigoberta Menchú Tum to speak on ethno-cultural reconciliation and indigenous rights.

According to MANGU president Berlinda Mojica, “I came to UMB itching for involvement and looking to make connections to the wealth of resources around me.” She found it as this semester her team has stayed true to their mission of multicultural understanding when in October they presented the film “Dominican Identity and Migrations to Hispaniola”.

This film was produced along with a book and it documents the diverse ethnic makeup of the island’s current inhabitants of Spanish, African, Arabic, Jewish, Asian, and Indigenous roots. For next semester, Club MANGU is energized and planning a week of events to celebrate their country’s 1844 independence in late February.

H.A.S., famous for their popular Tchaka night which celebrates Haitian culture is looking forward to taking a new academic direction on campus that focuses on island issues with a speaker of the month series. Their first speaker features a universal topic- the common problems faced in 3rd world countries as they try to guide development. The second speaker discussed women’s conditions in Haiti as gender stereotypes limit their empowerment.

This Wednesday, both clubs are joining forces for this “One Island, Two Cultures, The REALITY” event and hope that this is a bridge into the future to apply the education of their students to the betterment of their people’s lives. Physically, they are already united.

About the Contributor
Stephanie Fail served as the following positions for The Mass Media the following years Opinions Editor: 2009-2010 *Culture Shock Editor: Fall 2010 *The Culture section only lasted from 2010-2011, with Marcus Mersier taking over in Spring 2011.