For the first time since May 2014, YLC returned to Puerto Rico to hold a conference at the Saint John’s School in an incredibly important time for the country. Gillian, Albie, Zoi, and I had the privilege of serving as mentors to 50 Puerto Ricans, while parts of the country still remained roofless, without power, and in need of aid due to Hurricane Maria, which had devastated the country less than a year ago.
The students who attended the conference came excited and prepared to make real change to impact the lives of those still affected by Hurricane Maria. Their social change projects were well-developed and impactful around these issues. They devised ways to fundraise for those struggling, strengthen the hospitals, and unite the community in a time of need.
The best moment from this conference happened when the students ventured into the streets of Puerto Rico to make an impact in the community. The students hugged over 100 locals, immediately bringing smiles to their faces and brightening their day. One student described his takeaway from the activity: “We realized you don’t need to have money to change the lives of those around you.”
I am very impressed by the students’ intellectual ability, innovation, and creativity around these projects and am excited to hear about how they aid those affected by Maria and serve as disaster relief in case of another hurricane. These students showed me that in the direst of scenarios, anyone at any age can step up and make a large-scale difference in the community, and I would like to thank them for showing me the true power of change that the youth can have.
- Dario Zarrabian, YLC Puerto Rico 2018 Director