illustration of a drum set with the Puetro Rican flag draped over it.

Image by Anabelle Chinski

In September of 2017 two hurricanes—Irma and Maria—hit the Caribbean causing mass devastation across the area.

The Islands of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands were particularly hit by Hurricane Maria. The hurricane knocked out the power across the island for months, families were without food, shelter and other basic life necessities. Still today Puerto Ricans continue to struggle to overcome the devastation caused by these natural disasters. In Bloomington-Normal, community members and college and high school students have come together to offer aid during its time of need.

Two events aimed to raise awareness about the effects of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico will be in January, with a teach-in and a concert organized by local high school students.

“Teach-In on the Effects of Hurricane Maria” will be from 3-5 p.m. Friday, January 19, in the Jaime Escalante Room of Hewett and Manchester halls at Illinois State University. The event is free and open to the public.

Professor Juliet Lynd, interim director of Latin American and Latino/a Studies at Illinois State University, will moderate the teach-in, which will include presenters Daynali Flores and Krista Cardona of Illinois Wesleyan University, Maura Toro-Morn and Yojanna Cuenca-Carlino of Illinois State University, and Stephanie Rodriguez, The Daily Vidette.

“Speakers will offer an overview of Puerto Rico’s history and complex relationship with the U.S., explain the importance of this context for understanding the effects of the hurricane, the obstacles for rebuilding, and discuss what you can do to act in solidarity with our fellow citizens,” said Lynd.

Benefit concert
A benefit concert to raise funds for hurricane relief will be at 7 p.m., Monday, January 22, at the Normal Theater. This event is also free and open to the public. The evening will be filled with music and performances by local student groups who will share their passions and their talents to raise funds for relief and rebuilding efforts in Puerto Rico.

“As a Puerto Rican I was particularly moved when two Normal Community high school students, Keajia “Keke” Hardin and Anabelle Chinski, came to me looking for help,” Illinois State Professor of Latin American and Latino/a Studies Maura Toro-Morn, who learned from the students that sociology teacher and Illinois State alumnus Stefen Robinson required a community project. “They wanted to do something to help Puerto Rico. We met all semester long and the events we have organized are the best example of civic engagement and community cooperation we can find on campus.”

For additional information, contact Lynd at (309) 438-0097.