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DukeEngage Puerto Rico—Week 1

Fruit salad at the beach!

First Family Dinner



“We kicked off our first week in San Juan with chicken stuffed avocados and steaming platters of mofongo. After setting down our suitcases at Santurcia, our hostel nestled in the heart of Santurce, we headed out to the bustling Bebo’s Café on Calle Loiza. It was an opening dinner to remember—the first time we had all come together since the DukeEngage Academy. Bebo’s was just the beginning. Soon we found ourselves scouring Walmart together—pushing teeming carts and searching for tupperware and avocados. Next thing we knew we were bonding over impromptu pilates sessions at Planet Fitness, cooking up a storm at our family dinners, learning the ways of our new jobs at the office, and shuffling cards on the floor of the hostel lounge after work. We roamed through the colorful streets of Old San Juan together, enjoyed an eclectic orchestra concert, and formed new connections over plates of hors d’oeuvres at Puerto Rico’s first ever Friends of Duke reception—delving into our new home in Puerto Rico.”



“Carlos, Maddie, Eddy, and I went to a choir and dance performance at the Museum of Contemporary Art. The show was called Discidium. The choir sang Latin text about the oppression and gender roles of women while two dancers, a woman and a man, portrayed the messages of each of the 7 movements. Afterwards, Carlos and four other panelists discussed the importance of contentious and discriminating traditional art as being able to send a message and bring visibility of issues in the modern day.”



“We have to buzz into the office where most of us work this summer, and so per usual I hit the buzz button at 10AM this morning. We got rung in. Maddie and I walk in first, but before we get too far in the building we see the people working there all gathered near the kitchen and motioning for us to stop walking and to duck down onto our knees without saying anything. So the other four people in our DukeEngage group are still halfway in the building, and Maddie crouches so then I crouch too. But then the employees motion to stay right by the door, again without any words. So we are so confused and laughing because we have no idea what’s going on. I think they’re running some sort of emergency drill as if there’s a threat in the building and we interrupted it. But then after a bit they walk over and explain: ‘Sorry guys, we just didn’t want y’all to interrupt while the film crew was taking their shot.’ So we turn and see an entire set up with lights and large cameras and a bunch of people. So I assume it’s a commercial where they’re talking about their great non-profit work. But no. One person explains: ‘It’s a McDonald’s commercial.’”



“Cooking food together was really fun! Especially the family dinners. I also liked going to the beach after work with our fruit salad and getting to know the local people with Chris and Rodrigo.”



“There are so many things that stand out from last week. The first thing that comes to mind is the plane trip where I met Tori and Daniel at the airport and then we went to go get Panda Express together. After that we boarded our plane and got here. It just shows how open we are to being friends and starting something new…I think that all of the times that we can talk to each other and be with each other and see new things is really cool. Also being able to share different experiences with different people and what they work on. Different people talk about what they do at work and it is really cool to hear and reflect.”



“One moment that was pretty nice was when everyone was upstairs. We were talking and sharing experiences on the rooftop. It was a bonding moment. I liked dinner together too. Also the symphony was pretty nice. Also the Duke-Alumni meeting was fun and very bonding. Everyone spoke to different people and shared moments. Also cooking together and playing music.”



“One of my favorite moments was going to the Contemporary Art Museum with Carlos and seeing a performance art piece about gender violence and gender rights. It was super cool. It was in Latin and in Spanish, but we were able to understand everything because it was through music and dance. I really liked cooking together as a group.”



“I really enjoyed our trip to Castillo San Felipe del Morro in Old San Juan. It was first constructed in 1539 to protect the city of San Juan from enemies approaching by sea, and it provides a stunning overlook of the San Juan bay. It was really interesting to learn about some of San Juan’s rich history and explore such a beautiful monument.”