The students gathered outside of an Econo Supermarket just outside of San Juan on a Saturday morning with pencils in hand ready to work in teams to plan a meal within their designated budget. Mr. Erick Rios is the kind of teacher that draws his students in, as the students arrive they high five and hug him and then chat with the other students. Mr. Rios explains their task for the next couple hours to work together to stay within a budget and plan dinner for a crowd. His laughter and energy in contagious and he is clearly gifted and passionate about working with young people. He almost wasn't a teacher though. He shared that he was training for 4 years to become a doctor when he knew just knew he had a passion for teaching and changed his studies. He is so animated and fun as he leads the students in this challenge throughout the morning. He also shares that the students come together in the after school program that offer opportunities for students to work on leadership skills as well as attend field trips. The students have been separated into other schools after an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.3 damaged their local school. This after school program allows the students to get together and see their friends as they wait for their school to be reconstructed.
During their time at Econo Supermarket the students worked together and laughed a lot about what they should cook for the meal- the group of boys had their hearts set on making chimichurri (I approve!!) but had to cut it when they did the math and realized finances would not allow it. Parents and other school teachers and leaders led them through the store, kept them focused, on task, and asked great questions. I was shocked at well received the students were at the store. They were welcomed and cheered on by other customers instead of seen as slowing folks down in their errands for the day. The young people represented their program well and showed how much fun learning can be.
Friends of Puerto Rico supports the economic development of the people of Puerto Rico through entrepreneurial initiatives, education, and creating opportunities for women and girls. I am so grateful for the opportunity to partner with them to capture their programs for 9-12 year olds in action.
The students then volunteered at a pop up coffee shop at a local credit union in Hatillo. Cafe Ama is all about social impact. The students gave out samples of 100% arabica ethically grown in Puerto Rico and sold bags of coffee to patrons at the bank to support the work of Seeds. Seeds was launched in 2019 in 5 different schools and provides 100 students the opportunity to learn and grow in skills and confidence. Seeds helps develop young leaders today and adult leaders of tomorrow in Puerto Rico and the Cafe Ama program allows them to learn entrepreneurship skills along the way.
"We are so proud of these beans because they survived the hurricane. They are strong." Marie Rodriguez the SEEDS Coordinator shared about the coffee they sell as part of the program. Cafe Ama's goal is to develop the first generation in Puerto Rico that will not live in poverty. The coffee AND the leaders and students are strong.
Thank you Friends of Puerto Rico & many blessings! More personal images & stories here.