Haiti has recently been through a lot; hurricanes and floods have devastated the island’s surface and scarred its people–but humans rebuild. That’s why from June 21-23, 2018, UCI is taking part in a 13 year effort to revitalize the Haitian entrepreneurial economy: the 2nd Annual Haiti Tech Summit.

This year UCI will send Michael Dennin, Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Education, along with two UCI students, Lydia Natoolo and Andrew Truong, to attend the summit. Dennin will offer advice on the best practices of teaching and learning he knows for Haiti’s leaders to consider integrating into their educational system.

Haiti’s leaders strive to craft stronger infrastructure, a more vigorous economy, and better pedagogy. The Haiti Tech Summit is one such attempt to revivify Haiti’s economy by empowering their entrepreneurs. They want to do everything within their power to foster growth; to do that, Haiti needs to reach students early on and rethink pedagogy from the ground up. That’s where Dennin hopes to help.

“Education should be the foundation of rebuilding any struggling economy,” said Vice Provost Michael Dennin. “Education looks to the future, preparing students for tomorrow in classrooms today. New pedagogy has to reflect that shift — it’s time to face facts: The goals of education have changed. Students have to be prepared for the worst, especially in emerging markets. They need to be versatile and fluent in technology. They need all of the qualities reflected in an entrepreneur.”

UCI is known for its innovation and entrepreneurship programs, having been ranked in the top 20 of CollegeNET’s Social Mobility Index. Michael Dennin, a recipient of CollegeNET’s Social Mobility Innovator award, will speak in Haiti on educational innovation. “The Haiti Tech Summit is an opportunity for true progress to be made, with differing perspectives coming together to advance our understanding of the world” he said.

Two UCI students will be attending the event with Dennin: Lydia Natoolo and Andrew Truong. The conference will help connect them with global influencers and individuals from major tech companies like Facebook, Uber, Google, etc. Lydia and Andrew can use these connections to help share their ideas and innovations to usher Haiti’s economy toward success.

Lydia is the president of Associated Students UCI as well as the founder of the nonprofit organization Love A Community. She is a fifth year undergraduate studying Biological Science and minoring in Political Science.

Lydia created Love A Community to better life for disadvantaged African communities: “Love A Community is dedicated to building sustainable and rural communities. We started with Atutur Hospital and now we have started a sustainable business to help single mothers affected with HIV and AIDS” explained Lydia.

Atutur Hospital was extremely understaffed, receiving only around $3,000 a month for all of its expenses. Every day, the hospital served 500-600 patients, and staff were forced to turn away anywhere from 70-100 in need because of the lack of time and resources. Since Love A Community established a clean water source at the hospital, mortality rates have dropped from 13.78% to 7.5%.

At the Tech Summit, Lydia is excited to meet the leaders of prominent tech companies and learn strategies to help her run Love A Community: “Being a student, I want to learn from the world leaders who have been able to build great companies and sustain them. Companies such as Google, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, to name a few” she said. “I am looking forward to learning from world leaders how to bolster a sustainable and scalable non-profit organization.”

Lydia wants to bring technology to the more rural towns of Africa; she hopes eventually that there will be Tech Summits hosted in Africa. “I am eager to foster relations which I can build to ultimately bring technology to isolated communities in Africa. One major hope I have is to one day have a Tech Summit in Africa. Hopefully Rwanda or Uganda, given both are my motherlands” she said.

Andrew, a first year graduate student studying civil engineering in UCI’s masters program, is also the founder of his own company: Maslow 3D Printing. He is excited for the opportunity the summit provides to meet those pioneering today’s technology: “I’m looking forward to going to the Haiti Tech Summit to network with international tech leaders and business developers to understand international business operations” he explained.

Andrew’s company hopes to decrease construction costs and expand the potential of construction by utilizing cutting edge technology. Maslow 3D Printing’s mission statement is to “[use] robotics to reduce costs, increase efficiencies, and maximize design capabilities for the global housing market” so it’s easy to see why Andrew is so excited for the Summit.

By attending the Haiti Tech Summit, Andrew hopes to learn more about how Haiti has dealt with the aftermath of natural disasters in the past. “I’m interested in building sustainable houses that are resilient to natural disasters in places affected by earthquakes and hurricanes” he said. “I would like to learn about how Haiti has rebuilt its infrastructure after natural disasters.”

Dennin, Lydia, and Andrew are all mutually excited to commit to the 2018 Haiti Tech Summit. To them, this is an opportunity for UCI  to aid Haiti in its time of need. They hope the partnership with the Haiti Tech Summit will last for another 13 years and far beyond.

For more information on the Haiti Tech Summit, visit the official website.