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Charles Wright Academy 2024 Puerto Rico

January 8, 2024

After two long flights, some spirited games of Heads Up, a four hour layover, and a bus ride in the dark, we were overjoyed to arrive at the Big Yellow House. We met our wonderful Global Works leaders, Sam and Nohelia, and after a quick pizza dinner, we were off to bed.
With raised spirits and four hours of sleep, we awoke to an incredible breakfast and a thirty minute bus ride to Old San Juan, where we met our tour guide, Alvin. Some highlights of the tour were the local stray cats that freely roamed the cobblestone roads and the numerous statues and monuments.
A pause during our day in Old San Juan was our lunch Raices, a Puerto Rican restaurant. The food was delicious, consisting of plantains, meat (if we wanted), and rice and beans. After a small trivia game covering what we had learned, the winners were awarded tres leches or flan for dessert.
Next we headed to Fort Cristobal, the second most visited fort in all of Old San Juan. Here, we headed down various pitch-black tunnels and even saw drawings created with clay and dust from a prisoner within the dungeons. We also saw some incredible seaside scenic views from the high watchtowers of the fort.
Our outing concluded with time to explore the various roadside shops, which sold everything from postcards to handmade beaded bracelets. After many group photos and an amazing adventure, we hopped on the bus and headed home. It was eerily quiet as almost everyone had fallen asleep.
We ended the day at the beach, allowing us to cool off and relax. The amount of times we all laughed uncontrollably is uncountable. After playing long and surprisingly competitive games of volleyball and Marco Polo, we headed back to the Big Yellow House to clean up and to indulge in a dinner of chicken, salad, and vegetarian hot-dogs. Finally, we turned on the football game and reflected on our day. Go Dawgs!

January 9, 2024

We awoke to the smell of light cinnamon sugar wafting through the Big Yellow House. We started the day with a hearty breakfast, readied ourselves for the upcoming events, and circled up for our morning meeting. A short bus ride to the worksite started our long day of strenuous labor. We met William and Angel, who taught us how to be safe on the job and thanked us for coming. We got to work immediately by shoveling and loosening the dirt and sand in order to level the foundation of the house. Some of us split off from the group and helped move rebar up and down the hill for a future job.
After working for around three hours, we were welcomed by Maria and her family with a delicious meal and time to relax. Exhausted, many of us fell asleep after enjoying our food. It flew by quickly, and we were back to work in an instant.
With how productive we were beforehand, the post lunch work was considerably less difficult. We started by laying out the rebars from earlier. Then, we used wires and nails to secure the bars to each other in a crisscross formation. Soon enough, work was finished. We began to clean and pack up our things and started heading home. On our way back to the bus, we noticed the abundance of stray animals. There were dogs, cats, and even cows and goats. We unfortunately had to say goodbye to our furry friends as we loaded onto the bus.

As soon as we got back, those who wanted to headed straight to the beach. We swam for a bit until it was near sunset. Some of us, led by an adventurous Hoppin, hiked to the edge of the shore to watch the sun go down. A couple of us decided to pick coconuts from the nearby trees as we returned home. Back to the house, we were once again greeted with dinner. We finished up just in time for our salsa dance class, led by Yara. We were challenged with the task of dancing with everybody, but were rewarded with a new life skill. Our party ended, and we reflected on the day. YAYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

January 10, 2024
This morning there was the constant sound of panic in the group. because we had to wake up earlier to get to the job site to get ready for pouring concrete. The group of twenty-nine kids were in a hurry to get a shower in and also scarf down plates of eggs, sausage and toast. Quickly after, we were on our way to the bus to bring us to the work site. We immediately got to work shoveling sand, rocks and cement. It is pretty hot here, so the fact that we had to wear pants caused noticeable tiredness among the group.
The work was rough and hot, and with this it caused a lack of water. The unfortunate event of the day was that the community that we were working in lost water today, so we took an early lunch. Maria led us to her house where we had chicken and rice, which was a perfect refresh for the job. Once the water was back, we would be right back on track. After a quick game of Mafia, we headed back to the job and we were over half way done, so it was only up from here.
There was hope in the group’s eyes walking back to the job site ready to finish off the rest of the work that was set for us. It seemed so possible. We had the whole half the day to conquer. All that we had to do was shovel the afternoon’s concrete recipe and buckets of concrete. We were working at a speedy pace, buckets were flying from the piles of rock and sand to the hungry machine that converted the mixture of water, cement, gravel, and sand into a big vat of concrete, which was quickly shoved up into buckets and swung from hand to hand leaving the concrete on the grid of rebar slowly filling the mold. As the rock and sand were depleting, it seemed to be that there was a race against time and supplies.
The group, high-headed from the previous success in their construction work, remembered there was a sweet reward at the end. Some kids were excited to play games and rushed to the Big Yellow House to shower and kick back and play more relaxing games while others hurried to the beach to play with the big waves, sand castles, and something Hoppin calls the human sand sculpture.
As the night was ending and the kids were being put to bed, we had a few supposed guests that joined us at dinner, these very special guests were none other than William, Angel, Maria, Edgar along with Maria’s daughter’s family. Maria’s three grandkids went straight out to the big expanse of field and most of the group’s kids followed.