Career teacher, community organizer, and post-Katrina redevelopment force Stephen Bradberry of New Orleans (at far left); AIDS/HIV activist Nancy Dorsinville from Haiti (second from left); long-incarcerated, now-exiled democracy advocate Doan Viet Hoat of Vietnam (second from right); and Burmese environmental activist Ka Hsaw Wa were among the defenders who met with students to share their stories and respond to questions about their lives and work.
Dorsinville said that returning to HSPS, which shares with three other schools the campus of the former George W. Wingate High School, exerted a strong nostalgic pull that wasn't all positive. "Wingate was part of my vocabulary even before I immigrated to the United States," she explained, because so many Haitians in New York attended the school, which had a 23 percent graduation rate before it was closed by the Department of Education. (Graduation rates at HSPS are 97 percent, and range from 54 percent to 69 percent at the other three schools.)
"This was pretty much the matrix" for Haitian immigrants, she told City Limits, "the place of many challenges, the place of many hopes. Some were successful, and others were not. Wingate was a part of life in Haiti—it's like a homecoming for me, even though I've never visited."