Day 6 in Puerto Rico started bright and early! We met at 6:45 a.m. and headed to Summit Hills Mennonite Academy (Academia Menonita). It was a beautiful morning filled with sunshine. Academia Menonita is where Lisa Rosada Rivera went to school and where her mother Liza is a professor of English.
We performed for middle schoolers and high schoolers during their chapel hours (8 am and 9am). The audience was full of welcoming smiles and their laughter filled the room. They were all engaged during our performance and it felt like a very vibrant and supportive environment. After the performance we had the chance to participate in a masterclass. Their choir performed for us! They had such wonderful voices and they made it clear to us that they were happy to have us there. We taught them Bhombela, which they caught on to really easily and all seemed to enjoy. After learning the song, we had a question and answer session with the students. We asked them questions about what their choir rehearsal looked like and what their favorite Puerto Rican songs are, and they asked us about balancing homework and school and what snow is like.
After the discussion was over, we headed to the cafeteria for a lunch of pork, rice, salad, and carrot cake for dessert. We had been asked by Liza to stay and perform at the school’s pep rally that afternoon, so after lunch we hung out with students in the common area until about 2:00, where we then performed one song and had the choir students join us for a performance of Bhombela.
After our brief appearance at the pep rally, we were off to Old San Juan for a couple of hours. We wandered around souvenir shops, admired a giant cruise ship, and enjoyed the beaming sun!
Once our time in Old San Juan was over we headed back to the church to meet with our host families for dinner. My host mom made us a delicious plantain lasagna for dinner and flan for dessert. It has been wonderful having host families and it was nice to get back a little earlier this evening so that we could spend some quality time with them.
During the week we would have a brief devotion period before our performances. These devotions included deep breathing, poetry, and prayer. They help motivate us for our next performance. Today there were tears of joy and remembrance during devotion. Ainslee Zou lead devotion this morning and brought up our beloved Deb Detwiler (the founding director of Voices of the Earth). She said a few things but the most powerful thing was this: “some us knew Deb but some of us did not, and I want you to know, especially if you didn’t know Deb…that if you felt magic at any point this week and you weren’t sure where it was coming from, it was her.” This resonated with myself and everyone else in the choir. We have felt her presence every day and will continue to with every note we sing.