February 24, 2006

Distinguished Principal and Staff of S. Shore Colleges of Entrepreneurship
Distinguished guests
Dear Students

I am here because a bright young Haitian-American invited me. Her approach was so compelling and her enthusiasm so contagious that I quickly became interested in this event.

I am proud and happy to be here. Happy because it is always a pleasure for me to be in the company of bright, interesting young people; the future of our world. Proud because today, we will not be talking about a miserable, desperate, depressing, pitiful Haiti. Ladies and gentlemen, I assure you that Haiti’s contribution to the history of the world is nothing short of magnificent. Our forefathers gave an uncompromising answer to the horrible injustice of slavery. So, a small black nation was born in the Caribbean on the first of January 1804. Haiti stood alone, without a friend in the world. Such is the price of freedom. However, we did not self-destruct. Ladies and gentlemen, the fact that we have remained a free, independent nation to this day is in itself a testimony to our collective resilience. Our country is a gigantic chapter in Black History. This fact should not be the world’s best kept secret.

During these two centuries of independence, Haiti has acquired a reputation for its exquisite arts and crafts. The works of our artists reflect the richness and depth of our unique culture.

Despite all its difficult times, Haiti has managed to export several generations of competent professionals all over the world. Recently, Mrs. Michael Jean who left our country at the age of eleven was named Governor of Canada. Mrs. Jean is but one of the many highly competent people Haiti has produced. I know that her example will inspire you, my young friends. My generation is counting on you.

Haiti’s physical beauty is simply stunning. Our people are known for their good nature and their sense of hospitality. Their zest for life belies the sad way in which our country is too often portrayed.

I would not end my speech without singing the praises of our Haitian cuisine. It is as warm and generous as the people themselves. Those of you who have experienced it surely agree with me.

In closing, let me once again, from the bottom of my heart, thank Pascale Saint Surin for having invited me to this event. Ladies and gentlemen, you are looking at a very proud Haitian.

Thank you for your attention!

Lesly Condé
Consul General