Recently a group of eleven students from Pittsburgh’s Sewickley Academy, along with two of their faculty, traveled to Puerto Rico on a service trip. During the trip, they were able to take part in community service projects, as well as cultural and culinary experiences.
“This trip was a great opportunity to learn about another culture and also practice my Spanish. In this trip, we visited many places that are important to the lives and culture of the Puerto Rican people. On top of that, we were able to visit beautiful landscapes, hang out with friends, and eat great food.” – D. Zuluaga ’25
Their time on the island started with work in a community garden as planters, weeders, and harvesters. The group also performed trail maintenance at The Indian Cave, a Taino heritage site, and studied the pictographs within the sacred caves in Arecibo.
At coffee farm Hacienda de la Naturaleza, the students learned about and assisted with the process of planting and harvesting and enjoyed the opportunity to sample the various coffees produced there. Through Corporacion Piñones Se Integra in Loiza they attended an Afro-Caribbean cultural talk and walk where Roberto Clemente was honored with a walkway. Then they learned about Bomba music with Rafeal Maya followed by dancing and playing bomba instruments.
“The Global Studies trip to Puerto Rico is one of the best experiences of my life. Not only was I able to enjoy myself in a tropical climate but I was able to immerse myself fully in the Afro Caribbean culture. Learning about their different cultural practices and their heritage was an eye-opening experience and something I will always remember.” – Rayna Thakkar ’25
This is the third time Sewickley Academy students get to visit Puerto Rico. The island was first selected as a destination because it was a place they hadn’t been to previously and its geographical proximity, cultural diversity, and opportunities for Spanish immersion. After the recent hurricanes that have devastated parts of the island, the students also wanted to find a way to help.
The trip included walking tours of the city, a cavern hike, and visits to the historic Castillo San Felipe del Morro fort, La Coca waterfall, and the Yokahú Observation Tower in the El Yunque National Forest.
They were inspired by the closeness of the community in the places they visited.
“The Global Studies trip to Puerto Rico was a fantastic [introduction] into global travel for my son. Because I feel it is very important for children to be exposed to the world so that they can understand their place in it, trips and opportunities like this are very important. Children exposed to different cultures, peoples and walks of life can better empathize and engage with others, and it garners respect for diversity.” – Susanne Patterson (parent of Ben Holsopple ’26)
Global Studies is a certificate program offered at Sewickley Academy in addition to their diploma. Students have also visited Belize, Israel, and Switzerland.
For more information on Sewickley Academy visit – https://www.sewickley.org/