May is Haitian Cultural Heritage Month in Miami-Dade, and on Wednesday the county hosted the fourth-annual Haitian History Bee in the county commission's chambers.
Four teams from three Miami-Dade schools competed against each other in a Haitian History Bee.
County Chairman Jean Monestime sponsored the event. Monestime is the first Haitian county chairman in the United States.
"Today it’s the Haitian History Bee. Tomorrow it may be a Cuban History Bee. The next time it may be a Chinese or Japanese History Bee. What this is doing is encouraging all of you to continue to learn,” said Monestime.
The finalists were chosen from both public and private elementary, middle and high schools.
Gabriel Vergara is on the winning high school team from Felix Varela Senior High. He’s not Haitian but was interested in learning about the culture.
“Not many people in Miami-Dade County public schools get a lesson on Haitian history. We get world history and American history, but we’re not really exposed to other cultures,” said Vergara. “To memorize a lot of Haitian history is difficult but the difficulty translates to how rich it is. I think it’s a hidden gem.”
Haitian students were also recognized for outstanding achievements.
Haitian-born Laudz Pierre is a freshman at Miami Northwestern Senior High School. She was honored for her good grades.
Pierre says she’s criticized daily due to her Haitian descent. She has a message for other Haitian teens going through the same thing: “You should never say you’re American or Hispanic just because people criticize you. Be proud of where you came from. Because that’s who you are and you should never lose that."
Miami-Dade County will sponsor Haitian cultural events until the end of the month.