Puerto Rico #3: Politics and Culture

Kathrine Margulis ’24, reflects on an educational visit with a Women’s organization fighting for gender equity rights, and Walter Burkley ’24, shares a culturally rich afternoon of Puerto Rican art, food, and dancing. 

Kathrine Margulis ’24:

We started our morning by walking on the beach and it rained really hard. We took a bus to Cordina Paz para la Mujer. It was an organization dedicated to fighting for women’s equality and rights. They educated us and had a conversation regarding education, transformative justice, femicide, and reparations. While discussing US-Puerto Rico relations, we heard the opinion of one of the women. Unlike some of the people we met with earlier, she believes that Puerto Rico should separate from America and become fully independent. However, she acknowledged that this would be difficult to achieve in the current political climate and considering the efforts that need to occur for progress with the people. Considering female violence in a post pandemic context, we learned about the trends within human support and behavior. After Hurricane Maria, neighbors joined together to support each other. They shared necessities, communicated, and grew closer. Contrary to the natural disaster, COVID quarantine resulted in “isolation, trauma, and loneliness” for the Puerto Ricans staying at home.

Walter Burkley ’24:

After a lunch of fish tacos and mofongo, a traditional Puerto Rican dish, we walked through La Perla. There we saw the vibrant buildings. We also saw some chickens, cats and a few dogs. From La Perla, we went to the Museo de las Americas. There we explored exhibits from Puerto Rican artists as well as artifacts from thousands of years ago. Certain exhibits were dedicated to the history of Puerto Rico. They had information about the food, customs, and practices of the indigenous peoples who lived on the island before Columbus arrived.

Afterwards, we went back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. Dinner was great. I ate steak with rice and beans. The servers were great. The bartender had great music taste and the two women were good at dancing. After eating we all danced salsa together and turned the restaurant into a dancehall. It was a super good time. Afterwards, we were surprised with ice cream at Ben & Jerrys. We learned that they sometimes name their flavors after activists which was interesting. After ice cream we played some catch before heading back to the hotel. There, we discussed the art we saw at the museum and how it made us feel. It was a nice and reflective experience. Afterwards, we had some free time to hang out before going to bed.