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Arendell Parrott Academy Puerto Rico 2023

February 21, 2022

We rode the bus from The Big Yellow House to Old San Juan. We met with our tour guide Alvin on the edge of the city. He took us down the cobblestone streets and explained the history of Old San Juan and how it came to be. We visited many monuments are learned their historic significance. We visited multiple National parks and were able to explore Castillo San Cristobal. After touring the city, we stopped at a local restaurant to eat lunch. We were able to enjoy local Puerto Rican cuisine at El Jibarito. Alvin took us to three authentic Puerto Rican shops to give us the opportunity to buy hand crafted and locally made items. Before we left the city we cooled off with refreshing popsicles. The bus then picked us up to take us back to The Big Yellow House. Since we had free time before dinner we decided to go to the beach to cool off after a long day. We had another Puerto Rican meal for dinner. After we ate we watched a short documentary about the effects of hurricanes and climate change on Puerto Rico.

~ Olivia B. and Hannah H.

February 22, 2023

We started out the day not really knowing what we got ourselves into. When we ended it, we had just had one of the best experiences of our life. Everything is so green in Puerto Rico. That was the first thing we noticed as we rode the bus to our volunteering site. The state of the neighborhood we arrived in did not match the beautiful nature surrounding us. It broke our hearts that these people had to suffer for so long without the resources and means to rebuild their lives. Despite their misfortune, they were incredibly selfless and kind to us. The language barrier did not hinder our connection at all with Angel, William and Edgardo. Our job was to help Willam with concrete work on his roof. Before we started working, Angel profusely thanked us for helping Global Works and emphasized how important it was for us to be safe while working. He even called us his children. Hurricane Maria destroyed everything they had worked so hard for yet they didn’t let it discourage them. Instead the community rose up, helping each other before they even thought about themselves. William had been a part of Global Works for many years, tirelessly working to rebuild others’ houses. Now it was his turn to receive a helping hand, and his expressions and words made a lasting impact on us. We had never felt so useful in our lives. The feeling that we are actually made a difference in someone’s world will stay with us forever. After our concrete work, we were treated to a wonderful meal at Angel’s home. His wife, Maria was incredibly generous and charismatic as well. She picked us up from the work site and transported us to a delicious meal that she had so selflessly prepared. We felt so welcomed while we dined and relaxed in her company. The traditional Puerto Rican food that we enjoyed was flavorful chicken and vegetables with rice and beans. We could clearly see the amount of love that went into her meal preparation. After we ate, we were once again thanked for our help and offered a lovely gift. We each received a bracelet with a Puerto Rican flag and unique charm. We spent the bus ride back relishing in our fulfilling experience with the kindred souls we had met.
~ Aneesha J. and Carolista W.

February 23, 2023

After breakfast, we traveled across Puerto Rico to the rainforest where we met 3T. She practices sustainability at Las Casas de la Selva, a tropic ventures sustainable forestry, research, and educational farm. We helped build a wall out of clay to prevent future landslides and subsequent erosion. This clay, which was washed across the street after Hurricane Maria, was bulldozed to the side, leaving a large pile of materials including logs, wiring, and other debris. We put rocks along the street to act as a wall and guide when we filled in the gaps behind it. After we finished and left for lunch, we had done a large portion of the road that will help prevent future landslides. We had a delicious lunch including rice and vegetables. Upon finishing our meals, we had a talk with 3T about ways we can improve the biosphere by making changes in our lives. This included sustainability practices like recycling and conserving water. We then headed back to our big yellow house where we went to the beach and ate dinner. We enjoyed watching a throwback movie suggested by our chaperones. We went to bed around 11 pm to prepare for another day full of fun and adventure.

~Conner W. & Brooks P.

February 24, 2023

We enjoyed a bonding time on the bus with some great music and memories. When we arrived in the lush mountains, it was a surreal site. We were met with great guides, Mika and Ray, who took us through a spiritual trip that started with a hike down to the fire, then to the river to look at some great artifacts. It was an eye opening experience I would definitely recommend.

~ Seth E

The experience that we had on our last full was a very enjoyable bonding experience. We really connected through recalling all of our experiences. We meditated and connected with nature. After some meditation, we brought some volcanic clay to the water and mixed it, creating a spa-like feeling when I put it on my skin. We then preceded to go on a little float trip down a river to learn a little about their culture. We came back and had a delicious bean burger with rice and cucumber salad. The day really made me remember all of the experiences that we had through the week.

~ Brody K.