Puerto Rico #8: A Note of Gratitude

Puerto Rico trip leaders Sheryl Koyama and Callie Gray, share their gratitude with families.

Dear DAPR22 Families,

We had the time in Puerto Rico to share with your children our deep admiration for their engagement, enthusiasm, cooperation and kindness over the past week, so this letter is not to them, but to you.

Thank you.  Thank you for entrusting your children to us.  As parents, we know that there is nothing more precious than our children and that spending time with them brings deep happiness.  You gave us a week of that time and believed that we would make that time as challenging and rewarding as possible for your children.  We hope that you will be able to sit with them and hear their stories and that you will be as impressed by their accomplishments as we were.  

At our program closing, we gave each student two physical takeaways from the program that we hope will remind them of the ideals we explored this week.  One was a small coin from the El Yunque Forest with a coqui frog on one side and a parrot on the other.  One of the recurring themes of the week was “next steps”.  Your children cannot singlehandedly achieve the 17 United Nations Sustainability Goals, but they can do their parts to advance them through the choices that they make every day and the larger tasks they decide to tackle. That might be offering safe spaces for children and teens to gather and learn, making connections in our local communities, researching sustainable energy options, or establishing virtual and physical links with people and agencies in Puerto Rico. Our hope is that they will put the coin in a place that they will see or touch it frequently and be reminded of our week together and their commitment to their personal next steps.

The second was a magnet with a Taino symbol.  The Taino were indigenous people of many Caribbean islands including Puerto Rico.  Once we decided the description for each symbol, we were able to place everyone in a category within moments and in complete agreement with one another.  We hope that you will recognize your children in these descriptions.

Baby–these people take joy in learning new things and view the world with the enthusiasm and openness of children.



Callie Gray

Sun–these people do their best to brighten whatever space they are in.  They are warm, wise and reflective.


Katherine M.


Turtle–these people are wise as well as thoughtful and intentional.  They take their time to assess a situation before acting and are quiet leaders.


Kathryn P.

Sheryl Koyama

Snail–these people are not constrained by time.  They move through the world at their own pace.  They carry their homes on their backs so that they can make any place feel like home.




Coqui–these people are joyful, fun and spirited.  They make themselves known even if they are not always seen. 



Juli (Envoys leader)

Water–these people go with the flow, but they are also powerful.  They are calm and reflective.  Like water, they find their own path.



Sami (Envoys leader)

In the past week, your children represented Deerfield, their families, and most important, themselves admirably.  We are very proud of them and hope that you are as well.


Callie and Sheryl