Preparing Boys for Life.

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Faculty Reflections on Puerto Rico
The Haverford School

Our Puerto Rico trip is comprised of an action-packed itinerary: hiking in the rainforest, exploring waterfalls and springs, snorkeling along reefs bursting with marine life, walking tours of murals in San Juan, eating incredible food in every city we visit, and, most importantly, completing our service project during which we work in tandem with students and teachers to improve their schools. It is hard, physical work, but easy in comparison to the emotional work we are truly doing on this trip.  All those things I mentioned are wonderful, they are, but the cultural heart of this trip,  el corazón cultural, not only immerses the boys in the culture of the island but within the culture of their own class.  

This trip is more than a trip -- it is an experience. It is eye-opening, perspective-shifting, bond-forming, and inspiring. Watching our boys work through the challenges we throw at them during their time on the island, the beauty in each boy's heart shine through as words and actions of kindness, and the sincerity and humility in their eyes as they listen and learn from the island's residents makes this experience one of my most favorite adventures with our Haverford boys. 

The transformation that takes place within each and every boy, and in turn the dynamic of the group, is nothing short of breathtaking.  Seeing a boy who would normally try to hide in the back of class push himself to the front lines of designing and painting a mural or building a garden with the children of Puerto Rico is one of the most rewarding parts of my job.  

This trip is more than a trip -- it is an experience. It is eye-opening, perspective-shifting, bond-forming, and inspiring. Watching our boys work through the challenges we throw at them during their time on the island, the beauty in each boy's heart shine through as words and actions of kindness, and the sincerity and humility in their eyes as they listen and learn from the island's residents makes this experiences one of my most favorite adventures with our Haverford boys. 
-Jenn Hallman


When I first arrived to Haverford, I was excited about our Middle School curriculum and the administration’s willingness to support new ideas and opportunities. After many conversations, we decided to try to plan a Middle School trip that would provide a cultural experience for our boys that was meaningful, but also affordable and relatively close. We chose Puerto Rico due to its cultural richness and proximity. 

This year, in some ways more than ever, the trip became an opportunity to provide much-needed support for the island and its people, both in the way of monetary donations and emotional connections. The teachers and students always take away much more from this trip than we give; the connections and rewards last us a lifetime. 

Since we took our first trip with 33 students in 2010, Puerto Rico has become a long-awaited eighth grade experience, recently growing to nearly 80 participants. One of the trip’s biggest game-changers is that we don’t allow boys to pick their roommates or groups. When they have to interact with classmates that they normally might not, they create new friendships and strengthen relationships over a very short period of time. We also regulate a technology-free trip (no cell phones) so the boys will take in the world around them and truly embrace the sights, sounds, and smells of the experience.

This year, we were unsure if the trip would even take place, with Hurricane Maria devastating the island after it had already suffered some damage from a previous storm. However, this year in some ways more than ever, the trip became an opportunity to provide much-needed support for the island and its people, both in the way of monetary donations and emotional connections. The teachers and students always take away much more from this trip than we give; the connections and rewards last us a lifetime. 
-Kerry Kettering-Goens


I have been fortunate enough to go to Puerto Rico with our Form II boys twice now, and each trip was unique and fantastic in its own special way.  The island is beautiful; our host, Vamonos Tours, is superb; and the itinerary Mrs. Kettering-Goens puts together allows us to make the most out of our time each day we are there. For me, the best part of the trip is the day of service. It's something the boys embrace and dive into, and they beam with pride when it is over.

Our boys learn more from their time in Puerto Rico each year than I'll ever be able to teach them in a classroom. It pushes them out of their comfort zones, and I believe it serves as a catalyst for their transformation over the next four years from remarkable boys into men of character. 

I love what I do, and I try hard each day to make a difference in the lives of my students. But the truth is, our boys learn more from their time in Puerto Rico each year than I'll ever be able to teach them in a classroom. It pushes them out of their comfort zones, and I believe it serves as a catalyst for their transformation over the next four years from remarkable boys into men of character. 
-Ryan Meyer