|Posted on May 4, 2013 at 12:15 AM|
BTF: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
VD: Hello!! My name is Vanessa Duplessis and I am currently a junior at CUNY - Brooklyn College. My love for children influences me to major in Children & Youth Studies, with goals of becoming a pediatricnurse. I am engaged to a handsome andsupportive man, who is currently serving in the United States’ Marine Corp. Throughout my life, I have learned theimportance of patience and love. I am a positive, energetic, and dedicatedyoung Haitian-American, who only dreams of serving my community. I am a member of Eglise Baptist Ammi choir aswell as the head choreographer of Gift of Praise Children’s dance group. I’m recently enjoying going natural and hopeto influence other females to embrace their natural hair too. Most importantly, I am a proud follower ofJesus Christ.
BTF: Do you think being raised Haitian Americanis a unique experience? If yes, how?
VD: YES,being born Haitian-American is a unique experience. As a child, other children would tease me becauseof my heritage by voicing their opinions and saying, "Haitian people can'tdress", "Haitians are lazy", "Go back to Haiti on the'Banana Boat’" and many more. People criticized me for being too"American". I understood atfirst very little what it meant to be Haitian but through my experience I’ve learnedwhat it felt like to be underestimated for being Haitian. In my household, I was taught that Haitianshave an enormous amount of strengths due to the obstacles placed to make themfail. Haitian born Michaelle Jean;educator, Garcelle Beauvais; actress and Jimmy Jean-Louis; actor, and SarodjBertin; lawyer were successful despite discouragement, hate, andmisunderstanding. Through thisexperience, I’ve learned to respect and appreciate the strength that Haitianscarry on their back, the faith on their lips, courage in their hearts and prideon their face. Overall, even though Iwas not born in Haiti, I hope that I will always make “her” proud.
BTF: How did it feel to win Brooklyn College’sMiss Haiti Pageant 2013?
VD: I wastruly amazed and felt extremely honored. I’m honored because I earned and was given this wonderful title. This title will forever be in my heart and Ihope to share this experience with my children and grand children someday. I feel bless because there are many beautifulHaitian Americans on campus and I didn’t think I deserve to be “Miss Haiti”. I told myself "I couldn't do this"but God had a different response for me and now I know "Yes, Ican". Through this experience I’velearned that nothing is impossible!
BTF: It’s very important for women to have apositive body image; do you think having pageants like the one you participatedin Haiti would benefit the country?
VD: Positivebody image is a sign of confidence and self-love. All the contestants are uniquely blessed intheir own way. Even though we allrepresented Haiti, it shows the variety of physical appearance Haiti has tooffer. Haitians can't be defined in onespectrum for Haiti is a prime example of diversity. Through the pageant, all of the young ladiescan learn how to embrace their bodies and be proud of their heritage.
BTF: In your opinion, what are the top 3 things needed to move our country forward and why?
VD: In my opinion, the top three things needed to move Haitiforward are more investments in the educational system, greater job opportunityand training for the people, and aid in the infrastructure. Growing up in a Haitian’s household, theimportance of education was also stressed upon me. In Haiti, education is very important butresources are needed in order to help Haiti progress in this category. Not only are 50% of school age children notenrolled in an education institution, there are approximately 30% of children enrolledin school, who will not attend the third grade. When investing in the educational system, there will be an investment inHaiti’s future. For the children ofHaiti hold the future of their country in their hands. It is important to invest in the educators,for 75% of those educators require adequate teacher’s training.
Secondly, job opportunities will help move Haitiforward, for 78% of the Haitian population is considered poor; living on lessthan two American’s dollars per day. Istrongly believe that the people of Haiti are multitalented and have manydifferent skills that can be useful in benefiting Haiti. Not only will an increase in jobopportunities fix those 40.6% unemployed in Haiti, but this will also be good forthe children of Haiti, especially since many families can't afford to havetheir children properly educated in school.
Lastly, a change in the infrastructure will open moretrade and transport opportunities in Haiti. After the 2010 devastating earthquake, most of the public’s infrastructuresbecame million of cubic meters of rubble in Port-Au-Prince. Without good conditioning road, Haiti willhave a more difficult time transporting natural products such as MangoFrancisque, which 2.5 million cases are grown yearly in Haiti. Infrastructure is also important in terms ofrepairing international and domestic airports in Haiti. Many people travel to the beautiful island ofHaiti yearly, so by repairing the airports this will increase visitors to Haiti
BTF: Last, but not least, what makes you aBelTiFi?
VD: I believeI am a “Bèl ti fi” because I’ve decided to love myself in order to bemyself! Despite the way societypressures females to be, I have my OWN definition of beauty and seek my ownstrength. Believing that NO ONE can takeaway the spirit that God has given me; I strive to excel and to also encourageothers to do the same. A bèl ti fi, inmy opinion, is not just great for her but also amazing in helping others to betheir own “bèl ti fi “. I try to teachmy praise’s dance students to love who they are and to stand for what theybelieve in. As a young Haitian-American,I love the country I was born in but adore the country were my heritage wasformed and I will forever stand for Haiti! Therefore I AM A bèl ti fi!