Nine months ago, the island of Puerto Rico was devasted by Hurricane Maria.
Nine months ago, homes were destroyed.
Nine months ago, people were displaced.
Arriving back in the states after helping with disaster relief has allowed me to put many things into perspective. For one, it allowed me to realize how blessed and privileged I am as an individual and as a resident/citizen of the U.S.
Every day, people complain about minor inconveniences in their lives such as slow internet speed, missing their favorite show or even their phones dying. But, for the many homeowners that my service in Puerto Rico has impacted, small inconveniences such as the aforementioned, are laughable.
How can one complain about the internet without power?
How can one complain about missing their favorite show when the very room where you would watch that show, has been destroyed by water damage and mold?
Being in Puerto Rico was beyond humbling for me. It allowed me to see that whenever I feel as though things are uncomfortable for me, there are people who are living through far more serious and uncomfortable hardships.
Living in the states gives us many opportunities to seek the help we need in any situation while others get ignored. Comparing my service in San Juan, Puerto Rico to my service in Port Arthur, Texas, it is clear that one city received much more help than the other. For one, the traffic lights in Texas were up and running while many of the traffic lights in Puerto Rico still remain unrepaired- nine months later.
This trip has allowed me to step outside of my world and add context to what it means to be an American, living in the United States.
Hopefully completing service in Puerto Rico opens the minds and eyes of future students who are a part of the New York “Stand with Puerto Rico” initiative to realize how privileged we are here in the U.S. I hope that it opens their hearts to want to do more for others who are not as privileged and are often forgotten.
Nine months later Purto Rico still remains in need of recovery and yet, the people are so pleasant and welcoming. Truly, a humbling experience that I wouldn’t trade for the world.