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Puerto Rico Building Communities 2017

June 24, 2017

After several long hours of travel, we finally arrived at what is truly a BIG YELLOW HOUSE! We are surrounded by palm trees and other tropical plants, can smell the ocean nearby, and sounds of birds punctuated by loud Puerto Rican music, have us excited for our adventures!!

Haiku by Nicole:
Sounds of wind and chirping
Waves in the distance crash
Yellow and blue unfold

June 25, 2017

After we toured Villa Del Rio where we are doing our service this week, we decided to go to the beach. On our way there, we saw so many colorful houses. Everywhere we went we could hear Spanish music and people celebrating their Sunday. The streets were chaotic and filled with people and cars including a parade of golf carts blasting loud music and people waving at us. Needless to say, it was a good first day of experiencing the Puerto Rican culture. We are looking forward to beginning our service work tomorrow!
– Bess, Mallory, Haley and Elizabeth

June 26, 2017

Today was likely the sweatiest day of our entire trip. We started the day out with pancakes, eggs, and fruit; however, there are not enough pancakes and eggs in the world to prepare us for the amount of work we did today. Although we left the work site with limbs that felt like noodles and clothes unrecognizable because they were covered with cement mix, we also left with some awesome new friends and unforgettable memories. We finished the day with another beach trip! The lukewarm water of the Caribbean will never get old. We are ready to get back to work tomorrow and do it all over again!
– by Claire

June 27, 2017

Today was our shortest work day so far, but we worked at Johnny’s house and were very productive! After that, we went back to the big yellow house and then went back out to Old San Juan there, we went to lunch at a restaurant in the town. There were many different colored houses which we learned from our tour guide, Alvin, was because it was how sailors identified houses when they were illiterate. We visited the El Morro fort and took lots of pictures while we took in the culture. After that, we came back to the big yellow house for salsa dancing lessons at night. We learned to different turns and then had a competition.
– By Josie

Colorful buildings,
multi-blue colored cobblestone streets
Murals instead of graffiti
Old San Juan

Enjoying learning about different Spanish styles of music
Winning second place
Everyone participating happily

Sophia’s birthday celebration

– By Seerun, Maggie, Lexi, Sophia

June 28, 2017

We started off the day with a reminder that although we struggle for a couple hours making cement, our work impacts the community members for life. With this in mind, and with the constant downpour of rain, we finished the roof of Reynaldo’s house and his wife Ani made us rice pudding as a token of her gratitude. With tears in her eyes, she told us that we had just put a roof over her grandchildren’s future bedroom and bathroom. Afterwards, we began to cement the floor of Tope’s house. To give you a glimpse of how difficult our work was: we, a group of 31 kids, spent 2 1/2 hours working and finished only half of the floor. We ended the day by polluting the Caribbean Sea with our cement-covered limbs. We are looking forward to another day of service and adventure.

-By Seerun and Delaney

June 29, 2017

Group 1- Nicole, Seeran, Kate and Miles
How was your experience different from what you expected?
Seeran: building, not to meet such good friends and come back to people so well, didn’t expect to love Puerto Rico, didn’t expect to salsa dance. Miles: the little things that we do change peoples lives. Nicole: I was expecting people to not be welcoming and I thought I would be left out. That didn’t happen. Kate: I didn’t think the construction was going to be difficult I expected to be inside the house painting.

Group 2- Caleb, Claire, Isa, Mallory:
With unlimited funds and creativity, how would you elevate the quality of life in Villa Del Rio?
Projects were aimed towards individual needs of families. We didn’t know the community well enough to know their overall needs. As years pass, each family receives individual help from Global Works members of community are willing to lend a helping hand and we would like to believe our involvement inspires that help.

Group 3: Jane, Connor,Haley, Ian:
How can we affect change at home?
It can start small – even helping a neighbor with a tedious project can benefit our community. We all appreciate everything we have much more after experiencing firsthand the kind of impoverished neighborhoods that exist around the world, but we also realize through the kind of genuine people we’ve met here, that true riches don’t come with money but instead through love and family. This kind of poverty takes place in Puerto Rico, but also in New York, North Carolina, California, etc. and there is always something we can do to make the world a better place filled with love and community.

Group 4: Mackenzie, Natalie, Cole, Sterling
What did you perceive as the pressing needs in our community?
when we were brainstorming, each issue we raised didn’t feel as if it reflected the needs of the community. We would need to talk to the community members to better meet their actual needs.

Group 5: Fowzia, Jazmyne, Lucas K., Lexi:
How did we find strength in each other?
We found strength in each other through: music, late night talks, positivity, friendship, food, culture, living and working together, dancing, car rides, Johnny and community members, staff.

Group 6: Bailey, Lucas M., and Bess:
What did you learn about the community that we worked with?
We learned that over all they have less opportunity than we do. We are lucky to have education and generally live a life of luxury. We have more economic stability and we feel grateful for what we have as do they. We were also respectful and because of this, we saw them as our friends.

Group 7: Maggie, Elijah, Delaney, Brendan:
How do you think the locals viewed the experience of us being in the community?
We learned that although not all of the houses in the community are as glamorous as where we live, the people here don’t need a lot to be happy. Everyone who lives where we work is very nice and extremely grateful. We found that to be amazing.

Group 8: Ryan, Sophia, Josie, and Elizabeth:
Who do you think benefited from our service work? Us, the community, both?
We think both equally benefited from our experience because mutual relationships work for him. In terms of service, the community received homes and we received an experience. In making relationships, we both also got insight into each other’s varied cultures.