Curiosity is a very curious thing. It can be fun or annoying, innovative or creative, a natural instinct or a practiced skill. No matter how you look at it, curiosity and the desire to learn new things is exciting. Being curious is all about asking questions — and lots of them.
words + photographs LISA BERG
Questioning and wonderment are qualities often pushed aside in the busyness of our lives. I was a school teacher for 30 years, and I am positive it fostered my love for curiosity and learning new things. Not only did I live for those moments when I saw students go beyond what I was teaching because of their curiosity, but I often found myself sounding like a 2-year-old: Why does it do that? Why won’t that work? Why? Why? Why? Few things give me as much pleasure as learning something new and breaking out in a smile when I say, “Really? I didn’t know that!”
In 2018, I retired from the Missouri public school system. Since retirement, my husband and I moved to Haiti as full time missionaries. Haiti is difficult to describe because, on one hand, I have never seen people create solutions to problems with so little to work with. If two people need to sit, but there is only one chair, turn it on its side and use it like a bench.
My passion is
to leave a trail
in Haiti of curious
kids who can
make an impact
on their country.
Yet, once a solution is found, they rarely try to improve upon their solution. Countless times, we have watched a Haitian do a task in a very cumbersome method. When we ask “Why,” we are told that is the way it has always been done. Their curiosity doesn’t drive them to find a better solution.
Since I have a teaching background, I visit lots of schools and participate in teacher professional development in Haiti. Asking questions, being curious and problem solving is almost non-existent. The classrooms are almost all based on rote memorization, lecture, and note taking. My passion is to leave a trail in Haiti of curious kids who can make an impact on their country.
Because we live in another country, especially the third poorest country in the world, people are often curious about Haiti. So, let me finish by fueling some of your curiosity with questions about this country.
- Can six people fit on one motorcycle? Why yes, they can, and they often do. I am sure that is not the record.
- Do people use cell phones like they do in America? Yes, many do have cell phones. One of our favorite sights is a young person riding a donkey while talking on his/her cell phone.
- Why don’t parents read to their children? First, many parents can’t read. But, also because there are no books in homes. Many parents can’t afford a book, and there are very few books in their native language of Haitian Creole.
Make a wish come true. Help Lisa stock books for their reading program in Haiti. Visit her Amazon Wish List, and buy a favorite book or two. Books will arrive by cargo plane, and Lisa will pay to have the books translated for the children in Haiti.
- Why do you often see one shoe, especially a flip flop, in the road? Because roads are dirt (dirt, not dirty). When it is muddy, their feet sink so deep in the mud their shoe breaks and comes off. They just leave it.
- Why do houses and buildings always look like half of the house has fallen down? They are not falling down; they are halfway built. Haitians don’t receive loans from a bank to build a house. They add a few cement blocks or a piece of tin when they have a little extra money.
- Why do Haitians eat beans and rice every day? They don’t. If they eat beans and rice one day, they will eat rice and beans the next day. A little joke told to me by a Haitian friend. Actually, rice and beans are the most economic food that will fill their stomachs and give them energy. And they do eat it EVERY day, along with whatever local fruit is in the growing season.
- Why won’t Haitians accept a U.S. dollar if it has one little bend or a millimeter tear in it? I don’t know, and it is super frustrating. Crisp, clean, brand-new U.S. bills are what they want. Haitian money (gourde) can look like it has been in circulation since the beginning of time, washed in the river, covered in … stuff, and held together by a single fiber and it is acceptable. I am still curious about that one.
Get curious! Ask questions! Learn about something that interests you! Fuel your curiosity! LB
Lisa Berg was born and raised in the Ozark/Springfield area and now resides with her husband, Sam, in Haiti. Lisa and Sam have four adult children, two of whom are married, and five grandkids. Follow the Bergs in Haiti on Facebook.