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Fort Jacques & the Potential Workforce for the Tourism Industry
My cousin took me here and I was shocked by the beauty of this beautiful historical ruins. I was also captivated by a Tour Guide named Jean Pierre (he preferred to be called John Peter), who greeted us as we exited our car. He had an accent that was a mixture of English, French and Spanish. His dialect mirrored the people he’s met who’ve toured the Fort.
Whenever I travel to Haiti I like to ask people their stories, you hear Haitians are a resilient people and you try to imagine what that is, but you don’t truly understand until you’ve seen it. My visit to Fort Jacques taught me that - not only are Haitians resilient, they are smart and innovative.
As we toured the lower level of the Fort, John Peter told me the story of how he learned to say “up the stairs”. He was guiding a group and took them on the ground level of the Fort, when he was done he didn’t know how to say “up the stairs”, he was on the verge of panicking until a group member pointed and said “up the stairs”. He learned the English language by visual and audio. John Peter introduced me to his apprentice, whom he’s teaching to guide tours. He’s giving back by creating jobs for another. Wow.
I looked at Jean Pierre and I saw the potential, can you imagine the possibilities if his talents are nurtured. After my tour concluded I asked him how much I should pay him, he said whatever I thought his services were worth.
As I was leaving, he asked if could send him a badge with his name, he wants to look professional when he approaches people; he wants them to take him seriously. I promised him his badge the next time I return to Haiti, I told him once I’m established I would love to partner with him. My dream is to give Jean Pierre a Rosetta Stone so he can learn English and Spanish, an IPad to help promote his business, an email address so people can request his services, and he can schedule his tours and provide a professional service. I want to set his price point per tour so he can be paid market rate. I want to give him a Polaroid so he can take pictures for those who don’t have a camera. I want to provide him with the skills to decide his own worth and grow his business.
There are a lot of business savvy and creative kids in Haiti; we need to nurture their talents. The NGO’s and Government needs to focus on supporting young people like Jean Pierre, they will be a great addition to the workforce and tourism industry. The only thing I would say to Jean Pierre is don’t change your name to John Peter, people come to Haiti for an authentic experience, teach them our culture, say your name proudly and make them say it, they’ll be happy to.
Thank you Jean Pierre for showing me YOUR Ayiti, for being a passionate guide, and an excellent photographer, see you soon.