Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Urban Education


Ofelia Garcia

Committee Members

Stephen Brier

Nicholas Michelli

Jean Y. Plaisir

Subject Categories

Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education


Haiti, language, culture, semiotics, social semiotics, discourse


This dissertation is concerned with the effects of the exclusion of Haitian linguistic and cultural practices in the education of Haitian learners. Through qualitative data collection and analysis, a set of texts and narratives in the Haitian Creole language, Rara and Vèvè practices were inventoried, reviewed and described. Moreover, a series of focus groups and ethnographic interviews were conducted with Haitian adolescents and Haitian parents with school age children living in New York. These interviews revealed that Haitians deeply value their cultural knowledge, and view them as resources for knowledge preservation and knowledge production. Textual analysis also shows that Haitians and their practices are misunderstood and negatively perceived in society.

We conclude that Haitian linguistic and cultural practices represent significant learning sites for Haitian learners. And, the inclusion of Haitian cultural heritage, knowledge and epistemology in the schooling experiences of Haitian students has the potential to improve their academic production and performance through increased self-esteem, pride and confidence, as well as increase familial engagement.