On September 20th, 2017, the island of Puerto Rico was hit by category 5 hurricane, Maria.
Today is April 17th, 2018.
It has been almost seven months since Point School Puerto Rico braced for impact against the storm.
It has been almost seven months of resilience, patience, and hard work, not only from the team at Point School Puerto Rico, but within the entire island community.
Martin Seligman, founder of positive psychology, suggests that, historically, the weeks and months following national disasters aid to the cohesiveness and shared meaning of communities. This idea is called post-traumatic growth, and it could not be any more true for the island of Puerto Rico.
In the days following Hurricane Maria, neighbors fought their way across property boundaries to ensure the well-being of their neighbors. Those with severe damage to their homes were invited into the homes of their neighbors. Food was prepared without electricity and shared with those who needed.
In the weeks following Hurricane Maria, community members met in town squares to organize donations and deliver supplies to individuals and families in needs. Sometimes this was done by loading backpacks full of food and goods and hiking to villages that were not yet accessible by road. Women, men, and children worked side-by-side to clear fallen trees from roads, fix damages done to local homes and businesses, and clean the storm debris from their neighborhoods.
In the months following Hurricane Maria, Puerto Ricans celebrated each small success together. The return of phone service, water, internet, and electricity. The return of family members and friends who had been evacuated. Schools opened their doors. Banks, gas stations, restaurants, and other businesses reopened. Life slowly began to steady into a “normal” pace.
But will life in Puerto Rico ever be “normal” again? Hurricane Maria was traumatizing and debilitating, and there are still many people suffering from the effects of the storm. But the camaraderie and resilience shown throughout the past seven months is not to be forgotten.
Neighbor helping Neighbor
Stranger helping Stranger
Puerto Rican helping Puerto Rican
The definition of Post-Traumatic Growth is finding meaning and growth due to a traumatic experience.
And as the New York Times printed on October, 24th, 2017:
In Puerto Rico, we invented resilience.