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Niagara College Puerto Rico 2023

February 27, 2023

Today we took a trip to Old San Juan. Some words to describe it would be: breathtaking, jaw dropping, lovely and vibrant. We got to tour around the city and learn about all the history that is built behind the walls of San Juan. Our travel guide took us to all the local owned stores and restaurants and talked to us about the culture that is present here. It was such an amazing opportunity to learn and explore a new place that is nothing like home to us. The streets are narrow and full of brick. Each building is colourful and different than the next. The city is alive and the people are so welcoming to everyone. It was a great experience to be immersed in the culture or Puerto Rico. Discovering new food and culture was the highlight of the day and we cannot wait to bring all the history that we learned with us home. We are very grateful for the opportunity and experiences that we are given through this trip. We look forward to the rest of the week here in Puerto Rico!

By Rachael S. & Paige S.

February 28, 2023
Today was our first day working with Maria, William and their family. It was a satisfying day of hard work in the hot Puerto Rican sun. Not only were we able to overcome the Spanish/English barrier, we completed a substantial amount of work, extending the wall to further complete the dining room of their house. We found many things satisfying, like twisting the wires that held the rebar together and using the power tools. William and Maria’s family was extremely accommodating for those who have no experience in construction, letting everyone have a try on the tools and teaching them how to use them.

We noticed some differences in Canadian and Puerto Rican infrastructure as well, starting with how they work in tandem with nature. In Canada, we try to conqure and remove nature’s influence in our cities and structures, where in Puerto Rico, they build on what’s there, removing only what  needs to be removed. The architecture itself was made with hurricane season in mind, with windows made of smaller panels that tilt out, with flat roofs that the wind can’t catch.

Another difference between Canadians and Puerto Rican’s is how Canadians tend to specialize in one field of work, while Puerto Ricans have a more holistic approach, knowing everything from plumbing to formwork.
After all of our hard work, and some well needed downtime, we were treated to a Salsa dance lesson. It was a refreshing time to get to learn more about our fellow group members through an energetic dance lesson.
With this day behind us, we go to bed tired with our hearts full, ready to get back to work.

Richard S. and Rory J.

March 1, 2023

Day 4 in Puerto Rico where we finished the walls for Angel and Maria’s house. They work on behalf of Be World Ready and throughout their time working with them they have helped 50 families who have suffered from natural disasters. Throughout the time constructing the walls our group learned how to use power tools, how to make forms for cement with plywood and wailer as well as mixing and pouring cement. Regardless of the language barrier our team communicated with the workers with the help of a translator and overcame challenges along the way. Some of our group members have never done any construction or touched tools before but they stepped out of their comfort zone and accomplished goals they never knew they could. Our group has been inspired to be grateful of everything we have back at home and to continue to help people in need. Angel and Maria’s lives were effected drastically by natural disasters and instead of focusing on helping himself he decided to help his community and put other people first and no matter what hit them they stayed happy. Our main learning point to this experience was if we come together as people no matter of our differences we can make an amazing positive difference in the world.

By Quintin H. & Michael K.