Friday, November 19, 2010

Haitian Student at Gordon in the CCCU Spotlight

This week the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU) is celebrating the presence and impact of international students on our campuses. Today Gordon’s only Haitian student, Niltzer Fils, is featured on its site in an article written by Paul Wright, a senior history major at Gordon:

WENHAM, MA—Niltzer Fils, a 23-year-old second-year business major at Gordon College, is keenly aware of the importance of not being wasteful. When he can’t bring himself to finish a slice of pizza he doesn’t like, he is disappointed with himself. After all, in Haiti, where he grew up, you’re supposed to eat everything.

Fils transferred to Gordon from North Shore Community College in the fall of 2009. On January 12, 2010, his home country was struck by one of the worst earthquakes in its history, killing over 200,000 and leaving more than one million Haitians homeless. “When I heard about the earthquake, I was falling apart,” said Fils. “All I had was the news on TV, and I didn’t know if my family was alive or if my friends were okay. A part of me was gone after the earthquake.”

While waiting to hear about the condition of his friends and family, Fils found a great source of comfort from the students on Gordon’s campus. “People supported me through prayer and just asking me how I was doing,” said Fils. He was relieved to find out that all of his family survived, and support from the student population did not stop over time. “Even right now they ask me how I’m doing and how my family is doing,” said Fils. “They are supporting me still, even though it was eight months ago.”

Fils’ family along with all of Haiti is still in need of help. His family is located far enough outside of the epicenter of the earthquake that they avoided serious damages, but life is still tough. “Life in Haiti has gotten more expensive and more dangerous,” said Fils. “Life has totally changed.” For a country as unstable as Haiti, a natural disaster like the 2010 earthquake can leave devastating effects for years.

Being the only Haitian at Gordon College, Fils feels he is somewhat of a spokesperson for Haiti and the issues there now. His presence allows the students of Gordon to have a closer connection to events in Haiti. “By helping out Haiti they can see it as helping me,” said Fils. “It’s a way of saying they are with me and supporting me.”

Fils wants to show Gordon students aspects of Haiti other than its recent tragedies. He enjoys sharing the culture and customs of Haiti in any way he can. “Cooking a meal is a way to tell people about Haiti,” said Fils. “That’s like bringing Haiti to America.”

Fils urges Gordon students to help out Haiti by taking an opportunity to go on mission trips. He also encourages donations through child sponsorships and charity programs but warns of choosing carefully whom to give to.

Fils is hoping to do more than raise awareness about Haiti. Originally a computer science major, he switched to business after the earthquake so he could give back to Haiti on his own. He believes the business world is going to help build up Haiti after its numerous calamities. Fils hopes to be able to serve the people of Haiti through business by treating them as human beings and trying to help them rather than exploiting them for the sake of profits.

“In Haiti [business] is not really up to date and is full of corruption,” said Fils. “But Gordon has taught me that being a Christian in business is about being a servant.”

Written by Paul Wright, Gordon College senior history major and communication arts minor

No comments: