Gaining A Firsthand Global Perspective With A Trip To Puerto Rico

Jul 24, 2023Newsletter

Recently, many of our iCademy high school students traveled on their Capstone Trip to Puerto Rico. iCademy teaches students to think with a global perspective so that when they graduate, they will become leaders and thinkers who make a global impact. Our Capstone Trips are the cherry-on-top of the iCademy educational experience; travel provides a viewpoint of the world that classroom learning cannot quite capture.

A Glimpse into Puerto Rican Life 

This trip provided students a firsthand window into Puerto Rican culture, rich with history and tradition. “Seeing how other cultures live is important to me,” said high schooler Alishia Zahl. “Getting to know the locals and the culture definitely changed my worldview.”

One of the most important things Alishia Zahl feels students learned about is what it looks like to recover from the effects of a hurricane. The students learned that the devastation can last years. 

In September 2017, a high-level Category 4 hurricane named Hurricane Maria swept over Puerto Rico and left behind historically catastrophic damage. According to the New York Times and NBC News, around 3,000 lives were lost and it is considered to be the most deadly natural disaster in the US in the last 100 years. Costs of damages are nearly up to $100 billion dollars, and the island experienced an electrical blackout for eleven months following the storm. 

Non-profits, foundations, and locals dedicated themselves to the recovery and rebuilding efforts. Tourism has also helped, bringing more money into the Puerto Rican economy. Students learned about what it takes for a country to recover from a natural disaster and the part tourism has to play in it.  

Student Connection

For fellow student Alex Zahl, the highlight of the trip was bonding with classmates who became his friends. “Working with my fellow classmates on volunteer days was really fun,” he said. “Even if it’s 100 degrees outside!” 

In addition to meeting and volunteering with local Puerto Ricans, students also got the chance to explore some of the land. Surrounded by the ocean, the largely mountainous island offers a lot of variety in its terrain, including rainforests, rivers, caves, deserts and beaches. Puerto Rico is also full of lively cities and farms. Students had the opportunity to spend time in nature on their trip, including walks along the rocky ocean shores. “This trip is full of memories that I hope to never forget,” said Zahl.

Formative Memories 

“My favorite part of the Puerto Rico trip was getting to experience things that I would be unlikely to experience without iCademy,” said Alishia Zahl. iCademy recognizes the role that a firsthand perspective can add to a student’s learning. Whether it be through the Community Passport activities, field experiences, stewardship, or the Capstone Trips, iCademy students are unique in their grounded and connected viewpoint. 

We are thrilled to have provided students with the opportunity to see more of the country and to learn about Puerto Rican culture. It is our hope that students will carry the knowledge and memories from the Capstone Trip to Puerto Rico with them for the rest of their lives.