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Fall Newsletter - A Note from our President

On my way to school one morning, two weeks after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, I was listening to NPR. That morning they broadcast interviews of folks from Puerto Rico. I do not recall where, my guess would be in San Juan, but the gentleman was stating that he had lost everything…everything. But, as the interview went on, he continued in such a positive manner, “we have lost our homes but we still have our music! Nothing can take that from us.” I was immediately transported back to the last time I was in Puerto Rico in 2016. I have family in Puerto Rico. My mother was from there and I still have an aunt, an uncle and A LOT of cousins that live on the island. My sisters and I decided to go for a week before our families joined us. When we visit it is to see our family. 2016 was no exception. My aunt was my copilot as we navigated through Puerto Rico looking for relatives that we have lost contact with and visiting spots my mother would have frequented as a young girl. “We still have our music”. This visit was no different than any other we have taken to Puerto Rico. My aunt and my cousin Ricardo play guitar, a lot. Each night we sit out on the porch and they would play and sing. I have a young cousin who takes dance and she tries to teach me salsa and merengue. We go visiting and stop at a cousin’s house and he pulls out the guitar and starts to sing, another cousin jumps in and my aunt scavenges the house for a guitar so she can join in. When I ask what kind of music they are playing they immediately say folk songs. They state that everybody knows them. Everywhere you go in Puerto Rico music is playing/blaring! Pickups have huge speakers that roam the neighborhoods with commercials and music. One of my favorite memories as a child is at Christmas time musicians walk door to door, “Parranda”, or Christmas caroling, and serenade the neighborhood. Starting time is after 10 pm and goes until daybreak. By the end of the evening the group is large, laughing, and singing. Yes, Puerto Ricans definitely have their music and during this very difficult time where food and water are scarce, anxieties are high, homes and lives are lost, communication is spotty….music is a vital part of getting through; healing and hope. There is such a need for compassion and hope in our world today. Let us pray that through our daily walk with students we can teach them compassion, acts of kindness, the power of love, hope and healing. Amy Hofer Vetch

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