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Puerto Rico Hurricane Relief, Session 1

June 21, 2021: Visiting Old San Juan
Today was fun! For breakfast we had egg muffins, bacon and waffles along with juices. Then we took the bus to Old San Juan! We walked along a tour to see historic landmarks such as the oldest fort in the Western Hemisphere, El Morro. We stopped for lunch at a local Puerto Rican restaurant and tried Monfongo, which are mashed plantains. It was beautiful seeing all the colorful buildings and cobblestone streets. After lunch we shopped at local stores with handmade souvenirs. We returned back to the house and then headed off to the beach! We relaxed and played games in the water. For dinner we had chicken, turkey, rice and beans and all ate together. After dinner we finished orientation and got to know each other better with ice breakers and finished the night with dance competitions!
– Jackie, Jess, Ellie, Stella

June 22, 2021: The Work Begins!

Hello Parents, we started out our morning at 7:30. For breakfast, we ate some French Toast and sausage. At 8:30, we got on a bus to go to our worksite that we are working at for the next few days. We are helping reconstruct a house made out of concrete for a community member, William. After working for a few hours in both the rain and sun, we went to Angle and Maria’s house. There we ate some rice, chicken, beans, and salad for lunch. After lunch, we got back on the bus to go back to the Big Yellow House. Once we got back, some went to the beach and others stayed back and relaxed. At 6:30 we all came together and ate our dinner which was pork, chicken, pasta, and salad. At 7:30, Jay, a salsa instructor came and taught us salsa and we got really good at salsa. Once done we all were pretty tired and relaxed for the rest of the night.
– Lydie, Sydney, Brody, Alex

June 23, 2021: Service Work & Salsa

The first thing the group did was eat a delicious pancake breakfast; each time the group eats, they bond more and more each time. After eating, the group prepared for the bus ride and got their things ready.
On the bus, a student did Karaoke a day early. The ride was filled with forty minutes of good or really bad music depending on who is asked. Once they arrived, the group walked to the site where they would work for the next couple hours. The first job they did was organize the materials, in order to make the job more successful. They picked groups and strived towards finishing the wall and eventually started on the stairs. Once the wall was finished, most of the group was covered in cement; a hard rainfall exacerbated most of the group’s conditions. Luckily the night before, each member of the group learned how to salsa, therefore leading to a dance break before the stairs were started.
After the group finished working, they changed, and walked to Maria and Angel’s house, both incredible members of the community. Next, the group enjoyed a wonderful burger and chicken lunch before packing up and heading back to the bus.
When they got back, the group changed into beach attire and walked to the bay, where they went swimming and took pictures. After the beach, they took showers and played volleyball. (The boys beat the girls in both games.) After playing, they ate pizza and salad before watching a documentary about Puerto Rico, and how the hurricane impacted and affected the the locals in San Juan. After watching, one of the leaders led a group reflection, and the students participated in a discussion on their opinions about Puerto Rico’s independence. Once the reflection ended, they each shared a high and low for the day to the group before going to bed.

– Sam, Riley, Tino, Roger

June 24, 2021

Today was most likely the best day we had during the whole trip so far. We started the day like we normally do. For breakfast we were served eggs, waffles, and pancakes. We gathered our bags and equipment as we departed to the worksite. Many of us were happier today than others at the worksite because we were lucky enough to not work with cement. One group was building molds for the stairs of the house while the others were cutting poles and organizing and cleaning the worksite. We then left to eat at Maria’s house as usual. Today’s lunch consisted of chicken, rice, and beans. A classic!

After lunch we took the bus to a new beach. This meant we weren’t heading back to the house to change. This beach was very unique. It was quite small and was located within a cove. If you were there, you could see us climbing rocks, building a sand castle, and swimming in the water. As soon as we were preparing to leave, dark, ominous clouds were closing in on us. Most of the group sprinted to the bus to avoid the rain droplets.

We returned to the house for some downtime and dinner. Some of us were ecstatic to see a pasta dinner! After eating and cleaning, we gathered our baking supplies as we prepared for a exciting game of Iron Chef. It was the boys versus the girls. The boys ended up making a fruity pebble milkshake which was not enough for them to take the title. The girls took the crown by making a chocolate cake with ice cream. After an intense competition, the group headed to the main area for a night of karaoke. Every individual and group that sang did a terrific job. Everyone enjoyed the performances so much that everyone was upset when the night was over. The crowd favorites were Wrecking Ball, Starships, and Bohemian Rhapsody. All the group members then left to clean the remnants of Iron Chef as we prepared for the next day.

– Nick, Evie, Justice, Caleigh

June 25, 2022

Today was our final day at the work site working on willy’s house. We finished the wall and stairs of his home. Afterwards, we walked to Maria’s house and ate her delicious food she prepared for us. Then, all of us either relaxed at the Big Yellow House or the beach. Some of the community members ( Willy, Maria, Juan, and Enzo) came together to enjoy a meal with us to say farewell and gratitude.

– Hannah, Daña, Chris, Micah

June 26, 2021

To conclude our last day in Puerto Rico we departed from the Big Yellow House and came to Casa Coral. This hostel is right on the ocean and gives off the cutest vibes. Once we dropped our bags off, we ventured into the town to go shopping and have a delicious lunch. We had a small amount of time afterwards to go to a beautiful beach with crystal blue water. Once our beach time was up we continued our journey all the way to a rainforest. We spent some time hiking and looking at the river which was very full and choppy. Once back at Casa Coral, the boys joined us in playing games that reflected on our time together. It really made me and others appreciate the bonds we all formed with each other. After a delicious dinner, we gathered at bio bay and took a vigorous kayak ride to see the tiny plankton that inhabit the bay. When you stick your hand in they all come to life. This was a great way to end an amazing trip, filled with the best people, and best opportunities.