“HSO is open to all people,” said Christina Dauphin, a senior health science major and president of the Haitian Student Organization, or HSO. “This is a very rare case that we have an all Haitian e-board. The general body is very diverse.” Last year, there were also African-American members of the executive board, and the club thoroughly enjoys educating non-Haitians.
Anya Charles, a junior biochemistry and health science major who serves as the HSO cultural officer, joined the club because she moved to the United States from Port-au-Prince after the 2010 earthquake and was looking for a sense of community. She thinks that the HSO is a great way to demonstrate Haitian culture.
“I wanted show people both sides of the reality,” Charles said.
The HSO executive board comprises a president, a vice-president, a treasurer, three public relations officers and two cultural officers.
The cultural organization is known for its Kompa Night dance event and Creole 101. It brings in guest speakers to educate members about Haitian culture. The HSO also hosts a Voodoo 101 night. This night is dedicated to disseminating common myths and stereotypes that surround the voodoo religion. Black magic is not actually a part of the voodoo religion, and Haitians are not the religion’s only practitioners.
The HSO also collaborates with the on-campus chapters of the African Student Union, Rise Again Haiti and the NAACP. The clubs co-host a field day where double-dutch is a popular event. The HSO’s Facebook wall is filled with advertisements for other clubs supporting African culture.
According to Dauphin, Rise Again Haiti is more concerned with reconstructing Haiti through community service and financial aid.
HSO is more focused on sharing social and cultural aspects of Haitian culture, learning language and music and breaking stereotypes.
“We are fortunate to be friends,” Dauphin said.
The Stony Brook University chapter of the HSO also works with other chapters, mostly in New York City.
Dauphin’s sister was the president of the HSO at Brooklyn College. This year, it is trying to bring other chapters to a conference at Stony Brook. It is having trouble collaborating financially with other schools because of strict USG regulations.
Last Monday, the HSO hosted its third annual “Ayiti Lounge” open-mic night (Ayiti is Haiti in Creole).
The show featured performances by The High C’s, The Stony Brook Vocalists, independent rappers and singers and The Comedian’s Guild. The HSO found all of the talent.
Dauphin estimated that around 120 people attended, considering that the event’s organizers ran out of plates and forks. Most were not Haitian, which Dauphin called “refreshing.”
Charles and other cultural officers were in charge of looking for performers, maintaining contact with caterers and fleshing out details ranging from the dinner tables’ red plates and golden napkins to the music that played while people strolled in for the event.
Charles’ favorite part of being a member of the HSO is that the group has formed its own community. “We are like a family,” she said.
The HSO meets on Mondays at 8:30 p.m. in SAC 311.