As Americans yearn to understand more about Haiti and learn how they can help, six Virginia Tech scholars with intimate knowledge of Haiti will give short presentations on Feb. 10 at Virginia Tech.

“Lessons from the past, challenges ahead for a new Haiti” is the title of the free program sponsored by the Phi Beta Delta International Honor Society. The panel discussion starts at 7 p.m. in the Graduate Life Center Auditorium on the Blacksburg campus.

The presentation is supported by the Graduate Student Assembly and Hokies Helping Haiti, a relief effort formed under the auspices of Hokies United™. The evening’s moderator is John E. Dooley, vice president of Outreach and International Affairs.

Topics and speakers are:

  • “Haiti: A fragmented history from pearls to dust.” Inesse Semeah, equal opportunity specialist with Virginia Tech’s Office for Equity and Inclusion, is a Haitian-American activist, educator, and strategic planner. A lawyer committed to social justice and international development, Semeah has worked with refugees seeking political asylum in the United States and also helped develop political strategies for intervention in Darfur, Sudan.
  • “2010 to 2020: A vision of hope for Haiti.” Patrick Guilbaud, program director with Virginia Tech’s Office of International Research, Education, and Development, is a native of Haiti. A researcher and educator, his areas of expertise include strategic planning, curriculum development, and learning-systems integration. He is currently leading a three-year project to build capacity in computer science in Haiti’s Ecole Supérieure d'Infotronique d'Haïti. The project is allowing several students from the school to complete their undergraduate training at Virginia Tech.
  • “Mapping Haiti: The Use of Satellite Imagery and Crowdsourcing.” Peter Sforza is director of Virginia Tech’s Center for Geospatial Information Technology, a multidisciplinary research center focused on geospatial research. Sforza, a research scientist, is currently documenting and analyzing the role of information-communication technologies in Haiti.
  • “UN, NGOs, and fragile state: Exploring conditions for disaster, success stories, and the way ahead in the cacophony of international interventions in Haiti.” Laura Zanotti is an associate professor in Virginia Tech’s Department of Political Science in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. Working at the United Nations, where she served both in administration and as a political adviser for peacekeeping operations, she has visited Haiti twice. Her areas of expertise include international politics, security, peacekeeping, and democratization.
  • “Reconstructing Agricultural Production for Food Security in Haiti.” Keith M. Moore is associate program director with Virginia Tech’s Office of International Research, Education, and Development. He has more than 30 years of experience with agricultural and natural resource-based projects. His research has taken him to Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, Europe, and Southeast Asia.
  • “Experiences in Haiti with Partners in Health.” Chris Strock, of Blacksburg, Va., a Ph.D. candidate in Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering, is a civil engineer who has volunteered with Partners in Health in Haiti since 2005 on a bridge project and a new 180-bed referral hospital in the Central Plateau. Strock recently returned from Port-au- Prince, where he spent 10 days after the earthquake.

Questions about the panel should be directed to Betty Watts of Outreach and International Affairs at (540) 231-6452.

Free parking is available in the Squires Lot, located at the corner of College Avenue and Otey Street. Find more parking information online or call (540) 231-3200.

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