Rudolf Steiner H.S. Puerto Rico 2019
June 2, 2019
I will admit, the Global Works trip was received with equal parts pure excitement and apprehension. As the date neared, classmates talked among themselves about the various facets of the trip to come. Once the date finally arrived, for myself at least, elation was the dominant emotion. We all gathered at the airport at 9:45 am for an 11:25 flight that was of course delayed to 12:45. There is something uniquely odd about being in an airport with your class. Food was obtained, waiting proceeded and finally we were on the flight. The 3.5 hour flight went well, of course allowing for the minor turbulence. After what seemed longer than the reality, we arrived in San Juan. Immediately, I was confronted by the fact that we were now in a place where English was not the primary language. As a non Spanish speaker myself, this was somewhat intimidating. Assured by the fact that many of my classmates were fluent, I pushed thoughts out of my head and continued on. The car ride to the Big Yellow House was beautiful. Personally I have never been to the Caribbean before, so I was avid to take in the architecture and appearance that seems unique to these islands. Stepping out of the car we were greeted by the sounds of barking. Laughing at the many dogs, we gazed at the “Big Yellow House”, the place we were to call home for the week, impressed. The rest of the day passed quickly, packing, property exploring and a fabulous dinner all came and went. The class was ecstatic with authentic, Puerto Rican cuisine. The day was capped off with a quick walk to the beach; many of us satiated our craving for island life by a night time swim.
Personally, this first day was near perfect. I so enjoy the camaraderie the class assumes on our annual trips. I look forward to helping a community that is very much in need and I hope that this trip will be both meaningful and a enjoyable for all involved.
By Grace F.
June 3, 2019
Today we took the bus to visit old San Juan, as a down-time day before beginning our service work with Global Works and the community of Via Del Rio. We arrived early in the morning, sun shining high above, and were told pretty early on by our tour guide, Alvin, to stick to the shade as we walked through along the blue cobblestone streets of the old town, Viejo San Juan. The tour brought us past La Fortaleza and the Bautista Cathedral, as well as the great lawn of the Castillo San Felipe del Morro, a massive fort on the Northwestern tip of San Juan. We took in a view of the sea and the colonial fortification, then went to lunch at El Jibarito. There, many of us experienced our first taste of traditional Puerto Rican mofongo, tostones, and a variety of creole flavors. Though the tropical clouds threatened to rain on our afternoon plans, the day cleared up enough for us to enjoy the beach at Cerro Gordo.
Tomorrow, we begin our service in Via Del Rio. We feel a mix of emotions as we prepare to get our hands dirty, and learn about Puerto Rico’s road to recovery after Hurricane Maria.
By Julien G.
June 4, 2019
Today was the first day that we volunteered with Global Works in the small community of about 300 residents, named Villa del Rio. Under the hot sun and also pouring rain, we worked on building a roof for Dona Gladis’s house that was destroyed by the hurricane about a year ago. Driving in the bus to the construction site, I was struck by the humble living ways of the people here. A beautifully, simple way of life with people who seem so happy and grateful. When we arrived we were warmly welcomed by the Global Works team, William, Angel, David and many more. Their positivity, excitement to work with us, and their smiles immediately made us feel comfortable. We spent the morning and afternoon building not only a safe roof for Dona Gladis but building heartwarming bonds. We shoveled the dry ingredients (rocks, sand and dry cement mix) along with some water into the mechanical “trumpito” that mixed the material. Then after a short mixing period we shoveled the mixed cement into buckets and passed them, via human assembly line, to the prepared site, where we poured the cement onto the rebar frames and the horizontal columns, which when dry would become the roof of David and Gladis’s bedroom.
Many times Angel said “mi casa es tu casa,” and later he invited us to his home where his wife Maria cooked us a delicious meal of rice and beans, chicken, salad, and sweet fried plantains, called tostones. When Maria could have been working on re-creating her weather beaten home, she cooked an ample meal for all of us. This is an example of how caring and selfless the residents are.
After a long day of immense fulfillment and also exhaustion, with sweat and cement on our clothes, we said goodbye to the Global Works Team and headed back to the Big Yellow House, our home for the week. We went to the beach until dinner and then we dove into another cultural immersion of a professionally taught Salsa dance class. An hour of exhilaration, learning the steps, and twirling into our partners arms was the perfect excuse for ice-cream and a deep night sleep in preparation for the next day of work.
By Aria M.
June 5, 2019
Today was the second day we worked with the Via del Rio community. After breakfast, we went to the community and decided to complete all the work for the day, even though we expected the day to be as hot and humid as yesterday. This meant that we would work hard without a long break, and then finish with a late lunch at Angel and Maria’s house. As we arrived to the new worksite, we were confident in completing our task and that we would pass with flying colors as we did the day before. The work that was prepared for this day was the same as yesterday’s. However, this day felt very different. As the minutes ticked by, our muscles began to wear out and the sweat accumulated on our bodies. The day felt so much longer than the day before. Even with our water breaks and rests in the shade, we continuously felt very heated and tired. Nevertheless, we worked through the scorching sun and as the last bucket of cement was passed then poured, we were all relieved that we were able to accomplish what we set out to finish. Most importantly though, we were glad that we pulled through with our promises to finish cementing Javier’s roof.
As a group, we have never been so excited to eat food, especially after having a taste of Maria’s food the day before. Thank you so much for the amazing food Maria! After returning to the Yellow House, the class went to the beach. We had time to reflect on the work we did that day as the night rolled around. I know that we will all retain the memories from this experience as a whole, but I know that we will be especially proud of the memories we made this day. Our class has never been so united as we were today and I’m glad that it was with the Via del Rio community that we could experience it.
By Amalia M.