Words of care for us after the (ugly) storm

I found a quote of a haiku from poet Mario Benedetti:

Los apagones
permiten que uno trate
con uno mismo.

Which in English would be something like this (lousy translation is mine):

afford one to deal
with oneself.

This is somehow what happens when the light goes down and after a while you don’t even count on it, and make space in a day for stuff more related to your self, or–you get less distracted by the light and go after (as a friend would say) shadows.

I am not tired to repeat it, we are the lucky ones. We (meaning myself and immediate family and friends) do not need anything besides the obvious (light, more money, less mosquitoes, etc.)

There are however situations in the Island that are very worrisome and people who have been put in extreme misery. No food, no water. Besides having no power. Now, this is a territory of the US, no third world. But take a look:

  1. Communications disrupted, perhaps working at 30-40% of capacity. Meaning cell towers are down, or without power, without diesel to operate the generators—when generators haven’t been stolen.
  2. Transportation to the center of the Island and many southeastern towns is difficult and requires long times. Some students told me they cannot afford a three-hour trip each way from their town to get to Sagrado. In Utuado, some people have to cross (on foot) a river to get to supplies, since a bridge has collapsed. Many roads are *still* blocked by fallen trees, debris and light poles.
  3. And third, electrical grid is down to perhaps only 15%. Fifteen percent of Puerto Rico households has electricity after 4 weeks.

So, the infrastructure is shown to be completely down. No logistics, no investments from the Power Authority or the communication companies, for years, perhaps decades, have brought us here.

Ok, let me stop here.

Fortunately, we began classes anew, and students’ stories and smiles and positive attitudes showed us where we belong: in the column of the luckiest.

I am lucky to be forced to rethink my classes through the absence of power. And I am lucky to be able to do my classes without major extra worries. So I loved this first week.

I loved my students’ faces and smiles; and our sweat. So much good will. It is difficult, yet here they are.

I loved Alan Levine’s initiative El Puente de Puerto Rico, a bridge of postcards which I hope to receive en masse and to digitize and publish here soon. Well, the postal service hasn’t been its usual self, lately; but I hope to get them soon.

I loved my friends calling from wherever they are and offering to help. I polled students and I still don’t have an answer. It may be they are proud, that I was doing a lousy job, or both. Still, the postcards are being waited for. Still, another idea of Alan, which is to send us media and thoughts of hope and empathy through ds106’s Daily Create, is still flourishing in my mind.

My students and I are overwhelmed and we want to thank each one of a great group of people who decided they wanted to show support. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen.

Now, I am pasting hare a few of the great tweets of wisdom and care under the hashtag “care4sagrado”, “inf103” or “inf115” which were shared in the past couple of days. It has been a hell of a journey, up to here, in all the good senses.

Look for yourself the #care4sagrado hashtag on Twitter!

These are some of my students, under a tent. Look at the smiles.

I loved my students’ and everybody’’s attitude: when we say “hello, how are you?”, each answers “Well, given the circumstances”.

So, Maria has brought something very good out of us.

[Featured image by Andy Rush? @rushaw]

About Antonio Vantaggiato

Professor, web2.0 enthusiast, and didactic chef.
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