Giovany Toussaint (CS photo by Jaclyn Lippelmann)
Giovany Toussaint (CS photo by Jaclyn Lippelmann)

Giovany Toussaint, a graduating senior at Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School in Takoma Park, moved to the United States from Haiti in 2012, soon after a devastating earthquake had hit the country.

“It was a really tough time for me,” said Toussaint, who lost a lot of friends in the earthquake. “These people I grew up with…not being able to see them really affected me.”

After arriving in the United States, middle school was difficult for Toussaint, because “I really didn’t develop a strong sense of identity” and “people around me influenced me,” he said.

As he was adjusting to life in the United States, Toussaint made friends through an activity that didn’t require mastery of the English language – soccer.

“Soccer is one of the things that really brings me closer to people,” he said, noting that not many words are required to pass the ball and kick it down the field. “You just go on the field and start playing with anyone."

Toussaint said living through the earthquake in Haiti “gave me the strength to do something; to strive to be better.” When he got accepted to Don Bosco Cristo Rey, Toussaint said he decided to start anew and develop a strong sense of character.

During his time at the school, he has challenged himself with honors classes, participated in youth ministry, and worked in several different places as a part of his Corporate Work Study, including United Educators, the Deloitte financial services firm, and the Montgomery County Police Department. He has continued to play soccer, and this year was the captain of a team for the school’s indoor soccer, or “futsal” tournament.

Toussaint noted the hard work of the teachers at Don Bosco Cristo Rey as a part of what has helped him grow, saying that they “don’t go easy on us…but at the end of the day it’s because they love us.”

Part of what motivates Toussaint is his desire to break the stereotype of Haiti as a poor country with no one doing anything notable.

“That stereotype is not true,” he said. “There are people in Haiti who are accomplishing great things.”

This year, Toussaint was the leader of the “Faith Team” of youth ministry at his school, which means he was responsible for finding altar servers and readers and choosing songs for school liturgies.

Toussaint said his faith is very important to him, and has “shaped me as a person; my values, the way I talk to people, the way I treat people.”

Being Catholic, Toussaint said, is not all about praying, while that is important. In addition to that, he said, the Catholic faith, “is about being a family, a helper, a servant to other people…your action really matters.”

Informed by that faith, Toussaint plans to study developmental psychology at American University in Washington after graduating from Don Bosco Cristo Rey, and hopes to some day work with kids who are having a difficult time finding their way, like he was in middle school.

While he is not entirely sure of his career path, he is thinking about being a school counselor. He has observed the counselors at Don Bosco Cristo Rey, and said, “you can see it on the students’ faces” how much the counselors have helped them.

“Many kids, when they go through a tough time in life, make bad decisions,” he said. “I want to be a guide for them, because I’ve been there.”