“Are there Haitians in Moscow? The answer is “yes” since the Haitian community is made up of 54 students, most of them studying at the University of Peoples’ Friendship in Moscow. Four of them are enrolled in other universities, still in Moscow.
Less than a dozen other Haitians live in Russia. Most are children of former compatriots who lived in the communist era or students who married Russian women. It is even said that one of the first Haitian immigrants, René Théodore (Unified Party of Haitian Communists, PUCH) have children living in Russia.
Haitian academics study economics, public relations, international relations, agronomy, computer science, engineering and medicine. With few exceptions, Haitian academics score very well in exams.
The biggest difficulty faced by our compatriots is learning the Russian language and adapting to the climate. Before starting regular classes, at least 12 to 18 months are necessary to become familiar with Russian, a difficult language, since even after four years, some can not speak it well.
The climate in Russia is hard to bear: summer lasts only 2 months, with temperature drops from 30 ° to 16 ° in the space of a few hours. In winter, temperatures of up to 40 ° are scary, breathing becomes difficult and the cold is very intense.
While most of the students are past fellows in Cuba, some have applied as ‘contractual’ with the help of a Boston-based Association and pay only $ 2,000 to $ 2,500 a year. Next year, some twenty young Haitians under the age of 23 must arrive in Moscow to continue their university studies.
Although small, the Haitian community is not isolated, as students live on the same campus of the University of Peoples’ Friendship and gather to celebrate special occasions, including Haiti’s Independence Day. January 1st, or that of the flag on May 18th and sometimes constitute prayer cells.
An association has even been created with a view to bringing the two peoples closer together. Although there is still no diplomatic relations between Russia and Haiti, the President of the “Association of the Haitian Community in Russia” the medical student Fabiola Dalvius, said to work towards the establishment of a Haitian Consulate in Moscow and also hopes that more Haitians, like her, will have the opportunity to study in Russia.
When one considers the quality of the State University of Haiti which does not even have a real campus and the exorbitant cost of the treatment of the private faculties, it would be necessary to salute the craze of the Haitians to study in Russia.
Haitian students do not intend to stay in Russia after graduation. In addition to those who plan to work in other foreign countries, many are planning to return home ; one way, they say, to contribute to the development of Haiti and to renew intellectual and professional resources at a time when many of our brains are being recovered by other nations, Canada in particular.”