My Puerto Rico Experience
A month after 2 major hurricanes tore through the island of Puerto Rico, I embarked on a mission to collect school supplies for high school students to help them restock items they lost in the flooding. I wasn’t sure where to start, and I encountered a lot of setbacks due to lack of internet and electricity on the island, as well as a language barrier that made it hard to communicate. After a couple months of sending emails, I was finally connected with a woman named Dori who would end up helping me to navigate an experience that changed my life and showed me that when people come together, we can do things we didn’t think possible.
Dori asked around and found a school that incurred a lot of damage, and sent me a list of supplies the school and students lost in the flood. I immediately made a wish list on Amazon and started to spread the word to everyone I know, hoping that if everyone donated one or two items, I would have enough to help a few students. It didn’t take long for the boxes to start piling up on my doorstep. I was really thankful that so many people reached out and wanted to help me bring supplies to the students.
I was really excited to finally get to deliver the supplies to the school and was surprised to see so many people waiting for me when I got there. School was no longer in session, but the students and staff were so grateful for the work everyone put into bringing them supplies that they opened up the school and were there to greet me when I arrived. I got a chance to tour the school and see the damage the hurricane did. It still wasn’t fixed, 8 months after the hurricane.
The biggest lessons I learned from this experience are that if a lot of people come together, you can make a big difference that you couldn’t have made by yourself. The people I met at Isidro Sanchez High School taught me that you can have a positive outlook on life, even in a difficult situation. Their positivity, gratefulness, and welcoming spirit really rubbed off on me and I left there with the realization that I can find ways to make good out of any situation.
Thank you to everyone who contributed school supplies to my drive, and to everyone who encouraged and supported me, especially Dori, who helped me to find Isidro Sanchez High School and spent so much time coordinating and translating for me. This was an amazing experience and I'm so grateful to everyone who helped me along the way, and for all the amazing people I met while in Puerto Rico.