The second floor Green Library display cases currently showcase 1,800 years of history on one of the Caribbean’s most misunderstood islands. “Haiti: An Island Luminous” also shows what one FIU student can create with the right motivation.
The exhibit, on display until Feb. 28 and permanently available online, is the creation of doctoral candidate Adam Silvia MA ’09 and FIU’s Digital Library of the Caribbean director Brooke Wooldridge MA ’07. They wanted to construct a complete and functional database of Haitian history.
In 2009, Silvia – who is writing his dissertation on Haiti – came to Wooldridge with a problem. FIU’s Digital Library of the Caribbean was overflowing with information on Haiti, but needed context to be understood.
She initially challenged him to provide 40 PowerPoint slides of context, but Silvia realized that 40 slides would not be enough. So he came up with a different approach.
“The task was to take raw archival content and present it in a way that you do not have to be a historian to approach, interpret and understand it,” Silvia said.
The final product is a chronological tale of Haiti from its indigenous beginnings to the devastating earthquake of 2010.
With support from the University of Florida, Latin American and Caribbean Center and a $20,000 grant from the Green Family Foundation, he attended conferences and gathered the commentary necessary to build an exhibit that offered not just historical information, but a learning/teaching tool useable for decades.