Five students from East Wheelock House traveled to Puerto Rico last spring to work with El Departmento de la Comida (El Depa), a sustainability and food justice collective devoted to empowering the island’s communities to be ecologically resilient through local and sustainable farming.
Traveling with them were Sergi Elizade, their house professor and an associate mathematics professor, his son Guillem, East Wheelock Assistant Director Josiah Proiette, and Caitlin Rosario Kelly, program manager for educational access and equity with the Center for Social Impact (DCSI).
The trip was one of two alternative spring breaks organized by DCSI and the Office of Residential Life. Students from Allen House traveled to New Orleans to help repair homes that had been improperly repaired after Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005.
In Puerto Rico, Hurricane Maria’s devastation remains visible as the island struggles to recover. The Dartmouth group traveled to San Salvador, a rural community in Caguas, to volunteer at Jardin Ecologico de San Salvador, a community cultural and ecological garden. Working alongside community members and El Depa volunteers, the group cleared debris in the garden, built a compost system, and cataloged the site’s plants.
The partnership with El Depa is ongoing: a new group of students returns this week to learn about the nonprofit’s work and assist in projects at several of its partner farms around the island. This 10-day trip will be followed by another trip this spring that will send another group of students from East Wheelock House. Both trips will include students who traveled to Puerto Rico last spring. They’ll be returning this time as student leaders.
View photos of the trip taken by College Photographer Eli Burakian ’00, who traveled with the group.