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Published: 4/15/2004

UF educator, wife to speak about Haiti

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Mickey Mickey
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FINDLAY - When you call Barry Mickey's office at the University of Findlay, his voice message will let you know he's on sabbatical at the State University of Haiti.

The social work professor actually has been home in Findlay since December, when the political upheaval in the Caribbean country forced him to cut short the year of teaching and research a Fulbright scholarship had provided.

"Haiti is off limits to all Ful-

brighters now even though things have calmed down there," he said.

In February, a violent revolt in which more than 200 people were killed led to the ousting of ex-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Mr. Mickey, who also directs the social work program at the university, will present a public lecture at 7:30 tonight in the Endley Room of Alumni Memorial Union on the Findlay campus. His wife, Susan Kronbach, who worked as a chaplain at a children's tuberculosis hospital in Port-au-Prince during their stay in Haiti, also will discuss their trip to the poorest country in the Americas.

The trip was actually the second time his plans to spend a year in Haiti were interrupted. Mr. Mickey, 57, was first awarded a Fulbright in 2000, but his plans to go to Haiti were shelved when the U.S. government withdrew aid to Haiti because of allegations of election irregularities. He had been making annual trips to Haiti with social work students from Findlay since 1995.

Then last summer, he, his wife, and 15-year-old son Patrick left Findlay for what they thought would be a year abroad. Mr. Mickey said their first three months in Haiti were problem-free, but things began to heat up in November when student-led demonstrations soon led to violence.

In early December, he and his family returned to the states for a week when his mother became ill. On Dec. 5, the university was invaded and ransacked by pro-Aristide thugs. Mr. Mickey returned Dec. 8 to find that classes had been suspended, the campus was off limits, and many parts of Port-au-Prince were unsafe.

"The university only just re-opened last week after four months," he said. "They said there was $250,000 damage, but that might as well be $250 million because there is no money to replace what they lost."

Mr. Mickey and his family returned to the States for Christmas, and as the unrest mushroomed into a full-fledged revolt in February, it was clear they would not be returning to Haiti to finish out the school year.

In the end, Mr. Mickey was not able to delve into the research he had planned to do: look at what made Haiti attractive for international adoptions, where the children came from, and where they were going.

He said he has every intention of returning to Haiti and hopes to resume taking UF students there in January. He said he loves the country, where the people's attitude has always been one of hope.

"They have a dream and the dream is still there. They want to fulfill it," he said. "There is a proverb in Haiti: 'Behind the mountain is another mountain.' In other words, you work through one problem and you've got another one, and yet they still keep climbing mountains."

Kathryn Kelly, UF spokesman, said Mr. Mickey is only the third UF faculty member to receive a Fulbright.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at:

jfeehan@theblade.com

or 419-353-5972.



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