Lise's Lens: February 17, 2022

This week, Lise considers the importance of languages — specifically Haitian Creole — and shares her thoughts on a recent Black History month presentation and the documentary Black Art: In the Absence of Light. She also shows off a personal craft project.


  • A 2018 article about MIT professor Michel DeGraff caught my eye this past week. In his 2018 speech, titled “Can Our Black Lives Matter If Our Languages Do Not Matter?” MIT Professor Michel DeGraff examines the detriment of racism in linguistics, focusing on the suppression of Haitian Creole in his native Haiti.

    Haitian Creole is a wonderful language. What I love most about it is that it is playful and flows off the tongue. Growing up in Haiti, Creole was forbidden at school; we would be punished if we were overheard speaking it. At that time, it was a mark of profound disrespect to use it in any way, shape or form with a teacher and any adult for that matter. It was never taught nor used in school and it did not exist in written form. This was tragic on so many levels! It was, however, my preferred language with my friends when there were no adults around. Today it remains the language of friendship for me and connects me to my culture and country.  Luckily, its status is changing (albeit slowly), and students are using it at school in both oral and written forms.  

    On a related note, I was thrilled to see that in just a few days, the popular language learning app Duolingo will be offering courses on Haitian Creole! I can't wait to use this with my students in class! 



  • I’m still thinking about the Black History program our DEI Office, in collaboration with students from BSU (Black Student Union), MOC (Men of Color), COS (Circle of Sisters), and USC (United Students of Color) presented during assembly. It was so well curated. When organizing such a program, choosing what to include, what to highlight, and what to represent, is one of the most difficult things to do and our students really succeeded.

  • I love this quote! I’m going to put it as the heading of the whiteboard in my office for a while:

    “How much more vibrant will our communities be if students from all backgrounds spend time engaging with the beautiful, terrible complexity of human life—and bring this thinking with them wherever their careers take them?”

    —Mellon Program Officer Maria Sachiko Cecire on Humanities for All Times.


The felt and leather tote bag I made last Saturday! I’ve often thought about the importance of “making” and the joy it brings to the maker. Whether it be taking measurements in a math class that will result in making a maquette of some sort, or building a maquette as a class assignment in “Introduction to Sculpture,” making things with Arts & Crafts Club or knitting at Knitting Club, or the Valentine Card making our boarders took part in over the weekend, it’s just so therapeutic to lose yourself in a project and to create something. 

We are fortunate to have in Weston the Art & Innovation Center and I’ve been dying to take a class here. This past week, I finally did! What I didn’t expect was to meet the instructor — who is a parent of a CSW alum!

The Cambridge School of Weston is a progressive high school for day and boarding students in grades 9–12 and PG. CSW's mission is to provide a progressive education that emphasizes deep learning, meaningful relationships, and a dynamic program that inspires students to discover who they are and what their contribution is to their school, their community and the world.