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Interview: Elizabeth F. Louis

By LACSI on February 23, 2015 in Highlights
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Q: Where are you from?

A: Miami, Florida

Q: What brought you to UGA?

A: I came for my doctorate in Counseling Psychology. Dr. Stewart does research related to disaster mental health, which I am interested in. I am interested in how natural disasters impact people, particularly in Haiti. I look at culturally how people cope and how coping is natural. I am interested in how people cope in unique ways.

Q: What are your research interests?

A: I am interested in disaster mental health, coping mechanisms, ethnic minority mental health and how ethnic minorities deal with stressors.

Q: What piece of advice would you give to an undergraduate student?

A: I would tell students to find what is interesting to them even it is not common. Students should go to programs on campus, volunteer and get more involved.

Q: Why did you choose to do your research in Latin American and/or Caribbean countries?

A: Probably my cultural background because I grew up in Miami and was exposed to people from the Caribbean and the similarities and differences between different groups. My environment definitely shaped my worldview and lead me to focus on the region. I think it is interesting how people of that region differ when they immigrate and how they adapt to a new host country.

Q: What is your favorite thing about Latin America and/or the Caribbean?

A: I love the food and the natural landscapes! The way people communicate is also very unique.

Q: How did you become interested in counseling?

A: I took a psychology class in high school and was fascinated by the complexity of the mind and how all people have different reactions to things. This class led me to continue with the psychology track. In college, I narrowed it down to the disaster setting and ethnic minorities.

Q: Where is your favorite place in the world? Why?

A: There is a place in Haiti in the southern region that is surrounded by nature. It is a great place to slow down and get more connected. Also, I get to visit my family there. I can enjoy the mountains and the beach and the different viewpoint and lifestyle there.

Q: What is your cultural background?

A: My parents are from Haiti so I have always spoken Haitian Creole.

Q: Describe your favorite meal that you’ve had in Latin America

A: Diri Kole ak pois rouge. It is white rice with a sauce of black beans.

Q: Why is it important to learn Haitian Creole?

A: Haiti plays an important role in Caribbean and Latin American History. It was the first black republic. It is important to realize the intersection in terms of Haiti’s influence in Cuba, Dominican Republic and the United States. People should be interested in how Haitian Creole influences relationships.

Q: How do you say hello in Haitian Creole? How do you say thank you?

A: Sak pasé is hello. Thank you is “merci”.

Q: What is the best thing about the conversation table?

A: Students can learn about Haitian history. All students bring something to the class. There are lots of opportunities to learn more about the language, other students and the community. It helps build a network.

What can you get out of learning Haitian Creole?

A: Students can gain an appreciation for different languages. We take our English for granted. Haitian Creole can help us think differently and look at language in a way to contribute to culture and society.

Q: What led you to be interested in Haitian Creole?

A: Haitian Creole is part of my culture. I really love that it is something I can bring with me wherever I go. For example, I love food but I can’t bring with me the exact spices of foods so the food I make does not taste the same. Language is something that no one can take away from me. It will be the same wherever I go.

Q: What is something most people do not know about the Haitian Creole?

A: The language is made up of a bunch of different African dialects. During the slave trade, different African languages were spoken. There was a creativeness of the slaves that allowed them to communicate and form a language. Last week in the conversation table, I learned that during civil war a lot of people from Poland came to Haiti. When they arrived, they sided with the Haitians and the Haitians accepted them. That is why there are a lot of people in Haiti with “ski” last names.

Q: If you could sing one song on American Idol, what would it be?

A: Fanm Dous Mwen

Q: If there was a movie produced about your life, who would play you?

A: Lupita Nyong’o

Q: What are your hobbies?

A: I love hiking, volunteering, exploring new places and trying new food.

Q: What is your favorite place in Athens?

A: Cali n Titos because it has Caribbean food.

Q: What countries have you visited in Latin America and for how long?

A: I have been to Haiti a bunch of times because I have a lot of family there. I went to Mexico once for alternative spring break.

Q: How would you describe your family?

A: They are all really hard working, caring and supportive. Each person has his or her own personality. Everyone has a variety of interests but we all see an importance of serving others.

Q: What do you like best about teaching/teaching at UGA?

A: I love the students that come to table. I get to learn more about them and their experiences. I discover more about the history of Haiti. We all share experiences together so it is a mutual win- win situation.

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