August 2022 Newsletter
This month, SILO’S newsletter has decided to highlight Rapid Transition Housing Specialist, Taciana Cheriel, to get to know our staff better. I personally want to thank Taciana for sharing some of her personal life story with us.
Interview by Judy Wieber
Q: Have you always lived on Long Island?
A: Born and raised in Haiti, came to America 14 years ago, and Huntington has been my hometown since.
Q: What was it like growing up in Haiti?
A: Growing up in Haiti was fun. Haiti has an incredible climate which made it easier for me to play all year long. I felt loved, even by people that I didn’t know, it’s like we were one big happy family. One always looks after the other. If I am the person I am today, it’s all because of my grandmother who took great care of me, although she never wanted me to leave the house. One of the advantages I had in Haiti was the opportunity to always have my family around.
Q: How did you come to work in housing?
A: My friend Marianne worked for SILO in the past and referred me for a job here. She later resigned and I was hired for the position.
Q: How did you get to know Marianne?
A: Marianne and I met at Huntington Church of God, a church I use to attend since I came to the United States. We were in choir together and became close friends. Marianne is also my niece’s Godmother which now makes us family.
Q: Haiti and the United States, I would imagine are quite different in culture. What are some Haitian traditions, customs, foods that you are fond of??
A: January 1st is Haitian Independence Day, and, on that day, we make a special dish called “Soup Joumou” squash soup.
We celebrate Halloween in November and, Halloween’s special dish is called “tchaka”, a mixture of black beans, corn, meat, vegetables put together to create a delicious gourmet plate.
This is just to name a few of our main dishes; but we do have a lot more.
There is always something to celebrate in Haiti even when there is nothing to celebrate.
Q: I took some French in college and found it very hard to learn. How was it to learn English.
A: It was not hard to learn English because the school I attended back home made Spanish and English mandatory. I don’t know much Spanish because I was always more interested in learning English. I learned English since I was living in Haiti.
Q: Do you still have family in Haiti? What are some things you miss?
A: Yes, my mother and my two sisters are still in Haiti. I miss the beach, the natural foods, our weekly Sunday Dinners, really the whole Haitian Culture. Mostly I miss my mother and my two sisters.
Q: Are there some new American customs that you have come to appreciate?
A: Compared to Haiti, we used to have family dinner every Sunday. It was mandatory, my grandmother would be very unhappy if you miss Sunday dinner. When I came to the United States, things were totally different. I grew to like Thanksgiving because that’s when the whole family can finally come together for a good time. Monday through Friday are workdays, Saturdays are days to clean, do market, do laundry and Sundays are for church and family dinner.
Q.: What are some things, or people that may have inspired you to go into this line of work?
A: My goal is to always help others.
Q: You mentioned always wanting to help others as your motivation. When I heard this, it reflected your compassion and understanding you have for people in need. It made me think of how Haiti’s culture being religious and spiritual. How would you describe the people of Haiti?
A: Catholic is very common in Haiti. I am Christian, that’s all I know since I was a little girl. Yes, the people of Haiti are very religious, regardless of their religious beliefs.
After interviewing Taciana, I learned that “Soup Joumou” has a very important significance to the Haitian people. It represents victory and freedom of slaves over the French, in 1804. The revolution was the first successful victory of its kind. “Soup Joumou” was a dish primarily made and served by slaves. Slaves were never permitted to eat this delicious and savory meal. When the revolution was won,” Soup Joumou” became a victorious and celebratory delight. This meal is eaten whenever and as often as one would like to eat it but is traditionally eaten on January 1st. A great way to bring in the new year.
I also learned that Halloween is much different in Haiti then here in the United States. There Haitians go to the cemetery and bring food, celebrating the life of their loved ones that have passed.
This is the recipe for “Tchaka”
Caribbean National Weekly website
This is the recipe for “Soup Joumou”
Cooking/ NY Times website:
Recipe from Cindy Similien Adapted by Priya Krishna
An Interview with SILO's Own, Marilyn Tucci
SILO's 2022 ADA Celebration