Hola! I am about to end my trip after spending time in North and South Carolina for a week in a half with my family. Our trip to Puerto Rico was absolutely wonderful. Although our trip was shortened by a week, Dr. Torres made sure we had packed days and a substantial amount of activities to encounter. Before I discuss the trip, I would like to say how nice it was to get to know everyone on the trip…there was never a dull moment, and we are a pretty goofy and fun group to say the least!
A unique aspect of our immersion experience was the opportunity to stay in two different parts of the island: Orocovis (el medio de nada…) and San Juan. The first week we experienced life in the mountains surrounded by natural beauty and we were exposed to the simple and slow-paced lifestyle. We grew to love the sights and sounds (Coqui!) and felt melancholy when we said goodbye to our humble abode.
The second week we ventured to San Juan, leaving the nauseating curves behind. Our life in San Juan became more fast-pasted in order to keep up with the bustling lifestyle (especially that of Dr. Torres!). We quickly became in-tune to the academic environment of Puerto Rico because we visited University of Puerto Rico several times and also Carlos Albizo, located in Old San Juan. To illustrate the essence of each part of our trip, I will describe one experience from each place we stayed.
Orocovis, May 11th: We arose at 5am to get ready and travel to Hogar Crea, a substance abuse treatment facility. We had the fabulous opportunity to sit in on group sessions among the clients at the facility. Initially, I feared our presence (nine women and Dr. Torres) would negatively impact the group dynamic and possibly upset the clients. However, the clients were so welcoming, warm, and open. We observed two group meetings, which started at 6:30 am, and it was an unforgettable experience. Not only did the group members integrate us into the meetings by equally dispersing us among the circle, but they also gave us a chance to ask questions and be a part of the discussion. After the sessions took place, we visited with the clients for a while before we thanked them and said our goodbyes. We left the treatment facility around 9:30am and went to a local restaurant to try the best sausage around (mind you it was quite early in the morning, but it felt like lunchtime!). After the sausage, we explored the town of Orocovis and headed back to our casitas. By now it was about 1pm, and thinking we had naptime, we settled into our beds to rest. And then… knock knock knock, Dr. Torres politely told us to get up and meet our families for an afternoon! So, we encountered yet another adventure…
San Juan: May 15th: We attended a conference held at the University of Puerto Rico geared toward the mental health of college students. We witnessed a panel discussion about the current efforts toward the betterment of mental health among college students as well as an information session about specific topics. The panel discussion started off slow, and the head speaker discussed statistics and problems facing the college population. One of the main findings pointed out the need for family therapy. However, the panelists did not embrace the use of family therapy in mental health services for students. At the end, there was an open session for questions, and several people argued about the need for family therapy. It turned out to be an interesting discussion indeed!