Last month we celebrated the newest graduating classes from the Academy for Peace and Justice and Artists Institute in beautiful ceremonies honoring the graduates. Below we have two updates from APJ team members who were present for the celebrations with more details on the proceedings and on the graduates followed by a few of our favorite photos.

Graduation at the Academy for Peace and Justice
By Kathryn Everett, COO

Dear friends,

I’ve just come from the Graduation at the Academy for Peace and Justice and I wish you all could have been there. I was given the incredible honor of being the “Marraine,” or Godmother, of the graduation ceremony, and I made a short speech to the graduates congratulating them on all their hard work. It is hard for me to put into words how much the honor and experience meant to me. It was so beautiful, and humanizing, to see the graduates with their families, so happy, full of school spirit, bursting with happiness. The graduation was full of music, dance, poetry, song — the young leaders we are supporting in Haiti are definitely the next generation of artists for peace and justice! I feel so lucky to have been one person who helped to make this amazing school become a reality, just like all of you.

One of the best moments was when the graduating class, who have named themselves the “Quiddité,” or essence, of the school, literally passed the torch to the incoming seniors. The outgoing president held the torch high, and asked the incoming president if she was prepared to carry the legacy of the soul of the school — to which she replied a resounding YES! You could feel the pride pulsating throughout the tent.

I know that this year has been a challenging one, and at times it can feel like we are drowning in bad news. While I was in Haiti, Father Rick gave an impassioned service talking about our troubled times. He said that we can’t let our spirits be dulled by egotism, and greed, and darkness. We must keep our spirits sharp, and remain vigilant and compassionate, so that when we are presented with the next chance to help someone else, we can do so with hearts full of grace.

I am grateful for his reminder — and I look forward to that next opportunity. The Academy for Peace and Justice is proof that goodness still exists. Thank you for being a part of it.

With gratitude,

Graduation at Artists Institute
By Erlantz Hyppolite, Country Director

Dear friends,

July 1st marked the graduation ceremony of the third class at Artists Institute. For 10 years the institution has been serving the Jacmel community and Haiti by training 5 graduating classes of filmmakers and now 3 graduating classes of audio engineers. Artists Institute provides students with a dignified place to study, equipped with the best studio facilities available in the country.

The professionals trained by the Institute represent an important financial and artistic impact for Haiti. For admissions and scholarships, priority is given to young people that have talent but who would otherwise not have an opportunity to pursue the same kind of training. Because of this, each graduate is not only well trained but is also proudly engaged as a member of the Haitian music industry.

This year’s graduation ceremony was held on the Institute campus in Jacmel, with the sound of waves crashing in the background and modern Haitian beats mixed by the students setting the tone for the afternoon. The ceremony itself was simple and full of emotion, with cheers and celebration for each graduate as each was called by given names and nicknames, indicating the close bonds within the class.

Thank you for your continued support and for making these life changing opportunities possible.

With gratitude,