Jacky Lumarque points Symposium participants at this article as the starting point for his presentation.

Ten days after the earthquake, Quisqueya had organized a volunteer system. First the medical students set up in a tent on the parking lot. They were supervised initially by their teachers, then by a team of Slovak doctors who arrived with medicine and equipment looking for somewhere to work. Then the students set up a mobile clinic. After that came fresh water distribution points. The engineering and environmental students went out into the streets, helped people organize themselves into committees to manage the improvised camps as well as introducing work on zoning, sanitation and waste management. The university became a giant volunteering machine!

… I said to them: “The street is your university now”.

At the weekend students gathered with their teachers to formalize the non-formal education they had been getting during the week, or to put theory on the practice. We are working on a system to give them academic credits for this work. It changed the paradigm of education for them. They realised that further education doesn’t have to be one-way, that it doesn’t have to take place within four walls with an all-knowing teacher dispensing knowledge. With the volunteering initiative, knowledge is acquired in the street and the teacher accompanies the process. We are de-institutionalising knowledge.