Director of Service-Learning
Office of Service-Learning
4200 54th Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33711
Puerto Rico: Spring Break 07
Twelve students and one staff member from Eckerd College arrived in San Juan Puerto Rico to participate in service work for a week. Our first site was the National Historic Site in Old San Juan. Here we got a tour of the largest fort system in the U.S. park system and a history of the island. Afterwards everyone was put to work scraping paint off information signs around the fort. Later that evening we were invited back to the fort for a presentation of native Puerto Rican dancing. The following day we came back to finish the project and repaint all the signs.
Our next two days of volunteer work took place at Bill’s Kitchen and Ronald McDonald House. Bill’s Kitchen is an organization dedicated to making sure no one with AIDS goes hungry. They provide nutrition information, counseling, referrals and admission to hospice, shelters and drug/alcohol treatment centers. They also prepare a combination of meals on a weekly basis for patients and homebound clients. The students helped with moving boxes of food, preparing and packaging meals and assisted with organizing client information. The group’s last volunteer site was the Ronald McDonald House. The mission of Ronald McDonald house provides temporary accommodations to families whose children are seriously ill and receiving treatment. The house in Puerto Rico is the only one in the Caribbean and our group was welcomed with open arms. Here everyone helped prepare a meal for the families staying at the house and played games with some of the kids.
The biggest obstacle of the week ended up being our “living conditions” at Castro’s Guest House. The club next door made sure everyone got minimal sleep between the hours of 12-5am on the weekends. Our last two days in Puerto Rico were spent exploring the island. We visited El Yunque the only rainforest in North America. Then the group headed out for an evening of kayaking where we swam in a bioluminescent bay. The following the students went to the beach and traveled around Old San Juan before going to dinner and a flamenco show. The trip was incredibly fulfilling and a lot of great service work was done. However, everyone still left with the feeling of receiving far more from the people we met than we actual gave.