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Notes from Puerto Rico, Part Three
Tere Martínez

So many vivid images come to mind when I reflect on the work this past year, on the opportunity to be back home doing Roots and Action: Building Community. One metaphor has stayed with me. We’re driving through the mountains of Puerto Rico and it’s pitch black. (Many roads still have no streetlights since Hurricane María.) The sun begins to break through the fog and it’s magical. We’re on our way to pick up students who will perform their work at a school in San Juan. I envision them getting ready in the dark. For a moment I doubt myself and think, why are they bothering with all this? Most of them have no interest in becoming theater artists. They have already given up many Saturdays to participate in the playwriting workshop and now they have to get up before dawn for the readings? Then I think I know why: they’re hungry for new experiences. So many public schools here have no arts programs. Roots and Action: Building Community is new and different for our students. It allows them to experience a new way of learning through theater. It gives them hope as they realize there’s no right answer. It opens their minds to the possibility of change. And they discover that, with purpose, they can be the ones to start changing things. After their reading that day, those same students led a deep discussion about taking action and the need to create a new Puerto Rico. They became leaders in front of our eyes. I want to believe that beautiful sunrise was the awakening of a new country.

For more information about the program: www.rootsandaction.org

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