Makinoon Sami ’21 (Baruch), said that his week of experiential learning in Puerto Rico last summer “really had an impact on me.”
One area of impact is career choices. On the first night of the trip, the Macaulay students were inspired, as Mak put it, to “think about what we can do with our lives” by Mari Carmen Aponte, former U.S. ambassador to El Salvador. Afterward, Mak spoke individually with Ms. Aponte, who gave him “a lot of insights about government jobs and volunteering.” Now, he said, he is considering careers “where I can speak up for people.”
The trip also made Mak “more aware of the environment,” he said. “I want to help out more.” He was impressed by the way Puerto Ricans were “working really hard to restore their neighborhoods.” He particularly cited the children on the island of Vieques with whom the Macaulay students paired to plant trees on a devastated beach. “I don’t remember spending my summer as a five-year-old doing something to help my community! But here these kids are in this camp focused on the environment.”
Mak also was reminded during the trip of his own commitment to community. He contrasted the communal feeling he encountered in Puerto Rico with the more individualistic culture of New York City.
“The Puerto Ricans put their communities first and themselves second,” he said. “That’s what I want in my life.”