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Rise2HaitianCreole: How This Husband-and-Wife Duo Are Making Sure Haitian Creole Stays Alive

Spoken by roughly 12 million individuals worldwide, Haitian Creole is a language originating in Haiti that does not always get the attention it deserves. Many feel that Haitian Creole has become watered down over the years, but this Haitian couple is working to ensure the Haitian language continues to thrive in today's world.

Yve-Claude and Eunice Dominique are the founders of Rise2HaitianCreole (R2HC), a company founded in December 2019 specializing in providing online private lessons in Haitian Creole to eager learners.

Born to Haitian immigrants in New York, Eunice and Yve-Claude grew up speaking Haitian Creole, French, and English. In 2017, the couple moved from New York to Maryland to volunteer to teach Bible courses in Haitian Creole, where the requests for private lessons began.

"Many of my fellow English-speaking volunteers asked for my help with Haitian Creole. I was a bit reluctant at first since it had been several years since I last taught Creole in a formal setting. But the experience with my first student was so rewarding and produced results that I decided to continue. Other volunteers learned that I started teaching Creole online and asked me to take them on as students. When they saw one particular student making progress, others started joining, and little by little, the word spread. When Yve-Claude saw the potential of the new language business, he quit his job and joined me. This way, we can offer formal classes along with conversational sessions."

Eunice and Yve-Claude say that being in business together is one of the best decisions they have ever made. "We love it. We both have our strengths. When one of us is down, the other lifts them up. Eunice is a true teacher at heart. She conducts the formal lessons and spends time making content. Yve-Claude has a business mind and takes care of lots of the admin work."

Rise2HaitianCreole offers private formal lessons for their students and customizes their teachings to fit every learner. "We offer one-hour formal lessons a week where one will better understand Haitian Creole grammar rules and pronunciation. 15-min conversations are offered four days a week to help students practice what they learned and have a "safe space" to make mistakes and do their best at speaking only HC."

Eunice and Yve-Claude understand that for many students, the intimidation of properly speaking Creole with older Haitians is where the hesitancy comes from for many Haitian Americans. "We give students a chance to speak to natives who don't speak English and grew up in Haiti. This way, students will be accustomed to hearing different Haitian Creole accents and speeds."

The lack of access many Haitian Americans have to Haiti due to frequent instability and fear is often attributed to the reason why they struggle with the Haitian Creole language. "If we had access to Haiti, we would be forced to speak more Haitian Creole. Unfortunately, with the events in Haiti and how some Haitians living outside of Haiti speak of it, some Haitian Americans are scared of traveling to Haiti. That's why we put such a strong emphasis on the daily conversations in Creole, only to have something close to what they would have if they went to Haiti. If they build confidence with us, they'll be able to seek out Native Haitians living stateside like friends and family to speak to."

Yve-Claude and Eunice wish all Haitian Americans would only speak Haitian Creole to each other but understand that being in an English-speaking country hinders that. "Realistically, we live in a country where the main language is English. We know of many Haitian Americans who were bullied because of their accent or lack of English fluency. Others grew up in an environment where more importance was given to French, and Creole was frowned upon. Others didn't grow up with Haitian relatives or grew up with the ones that raised them thought it was more important to excel in English for future success."

The couple reflects on their journey building Rise2HaitianCreole and the ups and downs that have come with entrepreneurship. " The most challenging is keeping work in its place. Because we work from home and we're married, we can spend hours talking about our classes, the language, and/or our content. However, we have improved tremendously and have boundaries of when to talk about work. The most rewarding part of our business is seeing our students' progress. We've had a mix of advanced and beginner students, and to see them reach their Haitian Creole goals and our personal goals for them is the best part."

Eunice and Yve-Claude are proud to see how far Haitian Creole has come in receiving the recognition it deserves as a language. "We feel that Haitian Creole is booming. Much more Haitians are posting wonderful content on social media. More books are being published in Haitian Creole. Many youths are searching to understand their Haitian heritage. If anything, it is giving the language the respect it deserves."

The couple has exciting plans for Rise2HaitianCreole in the future to continue reaching their goal of spreading awareness of the Haitian Creole language and improving the Creole of their students. "We hope R2HC can be a one-stop-shop for anyone learning Haitian Creole, especially someone who wants to get past the intermediate stage. In 5 years, we would love to have enough students to bring on more teachers who are passionate about teaching and making personalized content related to the language.

Yve-Claude and Eunice are working to make content for intermediate and advanced learners that will help them past their plateau and help them better understand natural Haitian conversations along with Haitian expressions. "In 10 years, we would love to work in the background and create as much useful content as possible while having others help us teach Haitian Creole."

"We are also working on an app that will give learners, Haitian Americans, and natives the opportunity to connect in a fun way. We hope to share more details by the end of this year. We also plan to have way more events this year that feature Haitian literature, media, and culture."

For more information on how to get started with Haitian Creole lessons and join Yve-Claude and Eunice in one of their online cultural events, check out their website and Instagram page.



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