On January 12th, 2010 a massive earthquake struck the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince in Haiti. The destruction that followed was of immense proportions and it was reported that some 40 university professors, 1,300 teachers and 4,000 students perished. In addition, 13 university faculty buildings had collapsed and 2,394 schools were destroyed. After the earthquake, the University of the West Indies, led by Vice –Chancellor Prof. E. Nigel Harris worked to provide technical and humanitarian assistance. Since Haiti’s recovery is going to rely heavily upon the intellectual capital of its people, UWI faculty focused its efforts on the rebuilding of the country’s tertiary education sector. In order to achieve this objective, the UWI hosted final year students from the State University of Haiti to complete their studies with us. The St. Augustine Campus agreed to host 54 students (41 in Engineering, 12 Agriculture and 1 Social Science) to complete their final year studies. The UWI agreed with the State University of Haiti that the students would complete their remaining coursework at the UWI and start their final projects which they would complete upon their return to Haiti in 2011. The UWI staff and students generously contributed towards the “UWI Haiti Relief Fund”. Governor of the Central Bank and Chairman of the Campus Council, Mr. Ewart Williams, also played an integral role in obtaining financial support from the private sector which contributed generously towards the Fund.
The students arrived at St. Augustine campus on September 16, 2010 and were accommodated at the Sir Arthur Lewis Hall of Residence on St. John’s Road. They were introduced to aspects of Trinidad and Tobago culture, St. Augustine Campus life and the Campus community. In addition to their academic programmes, the Centre for Language Learning also provided classes in order to improve the students English language skills. After diligently completing their courses of study here at St. Augustine , the students departed back to Haiti in early 2011.