Teach-In: Puerto Rico is US

On Lab Day last week, the high school welcomed a number of scholars, journalists and experts on the current situation in Puerto Rico following the two devastating hurricanes earlier this fall. The teach-in featured workshops, presentations and conversations about various aspects of the island's history, culture and status as a commonwealth of the United States. 
Students moved between workshops seeking topics they were interested in understanding more deeply. Emma G ’19 attended a session on mental health with postdoctoral fellow from The New School. “It was informative to hear from a professional actually working on the ground in Puerto Rico. It was eye opening to get the perspective of someone who is a Puerto Rican American.”
Dominique E ’20 was reminded of the importance of understanding Puerto Rico. “I definitely gained a new point of view. Listening to Ms. Cruz talk about growing up in a Puerto Rican household reminded me of why it is important to study its culture because it’s important to know Puerto Rico like we know any other part of the U.S.”
Faculty member Emily Cruz, one of the teach-in organizers said, “It is important to teach students how to apply classroom content to their exploration of current events and to encourage them to be active agents of change in today's society. The diverse and informative workshops created a solid foundation for the community to reflect and most importantly introduced a genuine empathy and personal touch to what could have easily been just another news headline.
“The presentation was able to shed light on the challenging problems in Puerto Rico after the hurricane, said Nina L ’20 following the workshop she attended. “I realized that the hurricanes dramatically impacted every single person who lives there.” 
Christina O ’19 may have summed it up best. “The relationship between the U.S. and Puerto Rico is so complex, including why Puerto Rico isn’t getting more help faster. Understanding the root causes of why the crisis is so bad can help people think about how to create solutions.” 

One of the student presenters, Luke Morris '19, wrote an article for the High School's newspaper, The Grace Gazette, about his travel to Puerto Rico following the hurricanes -- "A Paradise Lost."
Full Slate of Teach-In Workshops
"Colonialism in the Caribbean" with Monxo Lopez & Ms. Olivares
Dr. Monxo Lopez, an activist, composer, and professor at Hunter College, will lead a workshop with Ms. Olivares on how the colonial presences in Puerto Rico relate to disaster after the hurricanes, and the need in the region to move toward "small s" sovereignties: food, land, and energy.
"My Evolving Definition of Puerto Rican" with Emily Cruz
Ms. Cruz, a Spanish teacher at the Grace middle school, will be speaking with different teachers about her experiences as a Puerto Rican-American, and how traditions, history, stereotypes, music, race, language, and politics, to name a few, continue to shape her self-identity.
"There's No Such Thing As A Natural Disaster" with Jacob Remes & Dr. Nathan
Dr. Jacob Remes, a historian and professor at NYU, will be speaking with Dr. Nathan about how the term "natural disaster" is misleading, and how vulnerability to harm from hazards is created by the social and political choices we make.
"Fighting Apathy With Viral Videos" with Gabe Gonzalez & Ms. Franklin
Gabe Gonzalez, a comedian, producer, and writer for MTV's "Decoded," will lead a workshop with Ms. Franklin on how he makes videos that cut through the noise of social media to spread awareness and generate empathy for the causes he champions.
"Después de La Tormenta - Mental Health and the Boricua Diaspora after Hurricane Maria" with Chakira Haddock & Dr. Cheung
Dr. Chakira Haddock, a clinical psychologist and postdoctoral fellow at The New School, will be speaking with Dr. Cheung about her research on how communities rebound from trauma after disastrous events like Hurricane Maria, and how her experiences as a Puerto Rican have influenced and inspired her work.
"My Work on President Obama's Oversight Board for Puerto Rico" with Jaime El Koury & Mr. Klebnikov
Jaime El Koury, father to Begonia and Jorge '18 and General Counsel to President Obama's Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico, will speak with Mr. Klebnikov about the work he has done with the U.S. government to respond to the debt crisis in Puerto Rico.
Documenting Puerto Rico with Nicole Salazar, Luke Morris, & Ms. Salazar
Nicole Salazar, a freelance documentary filmmaker and journalist (and Ms. Salazar's sister) will screen a recent film she made in Puerto Rico documenting the damage after Maria, and talk about projects she's produced in the U.S., Latin America North Korea and the Middle East. Luke Morris, a junior here at GCS, will present on a relief effort related to energy in Puerto Rico, reflect on his connection to family, and share photo documentation of the aftermath of the hurricane.