Roots and Action: Building Community is our first program for high school students in Puerto Rico. The design of the program is based on a pilot project we conducted in several schools across Puerto Rico. In the spring 2019 semester, we launched Building Community at three high schools in urban and rural areas of the Island.
These are historic times for Puerto Rico as it struggles to survive. An unprecedented natural disaster, a decade-long debt crisis and a lack of self-determination have all had a profound effect on Puerto Rico’s social, structural and economic well-being over the years. The island needs all the resources it can muster to rebuild itself and provide its citizens some level of stability, security and hope for the future. Now, more than ever, Puerto Rico needs to develop strong leaders; it needs its youth.
The ultimate goal of Building Community is to empower students to take action by helping them discover their ability to create change in their communities. The program uses drama as a teaching tool to help students explore their identity as Puerto Ricans, build the skills to succeed academically, and recognize their roles as members of society.
Through drama, students develop capacities for creative problem solving, analysis and reflection that help them build confidence, articulate their ideas and create a path toward their goals. Further, students begin to form the commitment and the mindset to confront new challenges and take initiative as high-performing students and strong community leaders.