Jenni and Jamie Bassi spent time in Puerto Rico this summer working to rebuild homes after Hurricane Maria.
Over this summer, Jamie and I traveled to Puerto Rico on a service trip with the group Global Works. We met twenty-two other teenagers from around the country and lived together for a week when we traded in our phones in order to focus on hurricane relief projects. Each workday our three group leaders transported our group to Villa del Rio which is the community that we helped. The entire island was severely impacted by Hurricane Maria and most people lost their entire homes, so currently, many extended families are all living together in very small houses. After a year later, there are still some people left without power. The community was beyond grateful for our help and welcomed us with open arms into their houses and families. Over the course of the four days, we worked alongside community members who taught us how to mix cement by hand and together we successfully built a roof, laid a foundation, and built a floor. The women of the community cooked us a traditional Puerto Rican lunch each day, and we were able to practice our Spanish by having conversations with the community members all throughout the meal times and at the worksites. One day, we traveled to a rainforest to aid with environmental issues from the hurricane which turned the lush forest into a barren patch of trees. We met a woman named Thriti who built this 100-acre rainforest with her team over the course of many years. She inspired us with her incredible life story and simple perspective. She empowered all of us, showed us how incredible the impact of one person can be, and left us with these inspirational words: "If you don't wake up smiling, do something else with your life." We collected large rocks from a river and used them to support a fallen bridge which Thriti and her team used to access the trees every day. On this trip, we were immersed in the culture and had the chance to experience everything the island has through visiting the historic Old San Juan, hiking in El Yunque which is the only national rain forest in the United States, swimming in the warm, clear ocean, and kayaking in the bioluminescent bay. We also met some of the strongest and most optimistic people we have ever encountered and created strong friendships with people from around the country. I encourage anyone who can to travel abroad and interact with the locals as much as possible. No matter how great the act, nothing is ever as rewarding as an act of service.
Congratulations to Jenni and Jamie Bassi for modeling service not only in your community but around the globe. St. Rose High School is proud to have you part of our Student Spotlight.