Cooking Class in P.R.

Puerto Rico Global Citizenship Trip Week 1 – Student Reflections

San Juan, Puerto Rico
San Juan, Puerto Rico

The 11th grade Global Citizenship Program is a very notable part of the Miss Porter’s School curriculum because it allows students to develop leadership skills through the formation of connections, integrity, and empathy outside the classroom. The junior class traveled to Puerto Rico during spring break and this trip allowed me to dive deeply into Puerto Rican culture. By connecting with the leaders of local non-profit organizations, I was able to impact others through service and become a stronger global citizen. 

This experience shaped me as a student and global citizen because I learned that immersing myself in a new culture can allow me to gain perspective on pressing global issues. For example, when we lived in APRODEC (a non-profit/community-based ecotourism center) we heard from Manuel, the director and leading architect of the organization. He told us that the effects of Hurricane Maria and other climate issues had caused APRODEC to need volunteers that could aid in rebuilding the future ecotourism center to its full potential. Hearing this allowed me to realize that the work I am doing with Miss Porter’s in Puerto Rico is valuable. I would have never fully understood the effects of the hurricane if I did not hear directly from local citizens and nonprofit leaders how much it impacted Puerto Rico. Our service provided a sense of fulfillment to those doing the service and those receiving the help. The ability to help a good cause and create positive change in the world is one of the best experiences you can have as a student, that is why I am grateful to Miss Porter’s for providing me with this opportunity.

Sydney Zarb ‘23

"Additionally, being disconnected for eight days showed my group that we really don’t need our phones as much as we think we do, and it allowed us to bond very quickly." Lucy Newmyer ‘23

The eight days I spent in Puerto Rico this month exceeded all expectations, increased my global competency, and provided me with countless life lessons.

My group began our time on the island at APRODEC, a community-based ecotourism center on an abandoned naval base in Ceiba. We learned the rich history of the island and its Taíno, Spanish, and African roots, worked on environmental projects around the site, and met with local nonprofit leaders and chefs. APRODEC is entirely off the grid, with all water and electricity coming from the site, so I left with a greater consciousness of conservation and hope to implement energy and water-saving techniques back at school. 

After our transfer to San Juan, my group tried to keep up the spirit of APRODEC and focus on connecting with the island, despite staying in a touristy area. It was the perfect mix of education, volunteering, and recreation; we hiked through El Yunque National Forest and saw Las Tinajas waterfall, kayaked around the Bioluminescent Bay, volunteered in the rainforest to create drainage, worked on a restoration project at a Baptist church in Loiza, explored Old San Juan and the Castillo San Felipe del Morro, visited the art studio of Samuel Lind, and were treated to a bomba dance lesson. All of these experiences were underscored by nightly lessons and conversations with our World Leadership School leaders. By the end of our trip, we checked off all goals and crossed out all fears we created for ourselves on the first day. 

In addition to the countless memories I made in Puerto Rico, I learned so much about myself, my friends, and the world around me. I’ve taken Spanish since elementary school, but until speaking with locals at APRODEC and in Old San Juan, I hadn’t realized the power of translation and the beauty of language. Additionally, being disconnected for eight days showed my group that we really don’t need our phones as much as we think we do, and it allowed us to bond very quickly. I especially enjoyed the long bus rides where I was truly present and able to enjoy the nature of the island. I already miss being in Puerto Rico but look forward to reminiscing with my group about our experiences!  

Lucy Newmyer ‘23

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