Yes, there was a summer long length of time since episode 6 of the Puerto Rico Collection (just published yesterday), but we are back in action.
I was moved into action seeing Antonio’s post on September 20 titled Hurricane María–The flashback:
A lot has been said and written on hurricane María and our experience of it and our experience of its aftermath.
Today, exactly one year after its passage, let me commemorate it and all the students who with me have stepped through such a hard time.
Today we watched hare at Sagrado the premiére of my friend Sonia Fritz’s documentary Después de María. Las 2 orillas (After Maria. The Two Shores). Of course I–and all the public within the theater–was moved. Impossible to retain the wave of emotions while the images passed by. But they were not images of wind and rain and water and debris. Those we know too well: In fact, more or less at this very moment one year ago I was working with my neighbors to clean up our street, just hours after the hurricane left us.
This is what started this whole podcast concept, first with the idea of sending postcards of care to Antonio (published October 13, 2017) and our first podcast on November 11. Connectivity was not reliable enough them for a conversation, so Antonio and I did segments by posting and replying audio files on a Google Drive.
What has happened to Antonio and his students in Puerto Rico since? That is today’s topic, and why I reached out with an email titled “Not an Anniversary” as it was really nothing to celebrate.
We started with Antonio recalling the scene of destruction, with no electricity, he observed from the roof of the student center at his campus in San Juan, Universidad del Sagrado Corazón. He reports the campus is fine, although there are still roofs of some buildings that have not been repaired, mainly because payment has been slow from insurance companies. More generators have been purchased for the future.
He described when flying in by plane now you will see a lot of FEMA blue rooftops where the roofs are plastic tarps. Electricity is restored to most of the island, but he notes that the island of Vieques still only has power from generators.
Antonio reports people on campus are doing fine; his Fundamentos de Informática (INF103) students are working on media projects documenting their Hurricane Maria stories which should be on the site soon.
Everyone has the phenomenon in their minds. But I don’t want to say it’s over. It’s not. There’s still a lot of things in the air. We still have a fiscal board that oversees everything here.
He referenced the stories told in the documentary by his colleague Sonia Fritz; check out the trailer.
I asked Antonio if it feels like the world has forgotten about Puerto Rico. As nice as he is, Antonio stays positive- he feels there is more attention and awareness of the situation in Puerto Rico.
He had about 6 or 7 students who did leave Puerto Rico and he worked with some of them to help them finish their students, but there are others he has never heard from.
We moved on to hear about Antonio’s two month summer visit to Italy, much to visit his mother and family, but also for his wife and daughters to spend time together. They got to do about 600km of road touring north near Venice including a visit with Jim Groom and family in Trento.
Also in this episode we learn that Italians have no idea what a pepperoni pizza is 😉
Antonio discussed his idea to teach a class in Puerto Rico that would include a visit to Italy, he would love to bring students to see his home country.
On technology, Antonio shared his recent interest in Jaron Lanier’s ideas about Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now.
We walked about his students use of Facebook and Twitter; he maintains that even if less popular, students in journalism and the news need to be aware of the role of Twitter.
We then moved to talking about perceptions of Wikipedia and I talked some about the work we did in Guadalajara on the Mural UDG project to increase understanding about how Wikipedia really works and the common first reaction that “it’s unreliable.”
I got to talk a bit about my own changes of the summer, including moving to Canada to get married and make a new home here in Saskatchewan. We talked some of building things by hands as well as some conversation about archiving web content (we are techno geeks, we circled back to the web often).
If anyone is counting, we went way over the 20 minute rule, given it has been so long since our last episode.
It’s always a treat to spend time in conversation with Antonio, and I am so happy to hear his positive, cheerful voice when we connect.