GIVING BACK

City University of New York students are helping residents of Puerto Rico as hurricane season looms.

Aired on July 27, 2018. 

TRANSCRIPT

> IT HAS BEEN ALMOST A YEAR SINCE HURRICANE MARIA SLAMMED INTO PUERTO RICO AND THE ISLAND IS STILL RECOVERING.

THIS SUMMER NEW YORK STUDENTS AT BOTH CITY AND STATE UNIVERSITIES WILL TRAVEL TO THE ISLAND TO WORK WITH THE NONPROFIT GROUPS NOHAMA, HEART 9/11, AND ALL HANDS AND HEARTS.

PART OF THE CUNY SERVICE CORPS, CREATED IN PARTNERSHIP WITH GOVERNOR CUOMO'S NEW YORK STANDS WITH RECOVERY AND RELIEF EFFORT.

HERE TO TALK ABOUT THE DETAILS OF THESE PROGRAMS, AND RESULTS OF TRIPS AND ANTICIPATED TRIPS IS MIRA ROSA, A STUDENT FROM CITY COLLEGE, AND ALEAH MEYER.

LET ME START WITH THE SAME QUESTION FOR BOTH OF YOU, MIRA, START WITH YOU.

WHAT GOT YOU INTERESTED IN PARTICIPATING IN THIS PROGRAM?

I WAS PERSONALLY AFFECTED BY HURRICANE MARIA.

I HAVE FAMILY IN PUERTO RICO.

I LOST MY MATERNAL GRANDMOTHER DUE TO THE HURRICANE.

AND I'VE BEEN WANTING TO GO TO PUERTO RICO.

I JUST DIDN'T REALLY KNOW HOW.

I DIDN'T HAVE THE RESOURCES TO DO IT.

AND SO WHEN GOVERNOR CUOMO STARTED THIS INITIATIVE, I JUMPED RIGHT ONTO IT BECAUSE I NEEDED TO BE THERE.

GAVE YOU THE VEHICLE TO DO WHAT YOU FELT YOU NEEDED TO DO.

I FELT REALLY LUCKY, REALLY THANKFUL.

ALEAH, HOW ABOUT YOU?

SO I DON'T HAVE FAMILY IN PUERTO RICO, BUT I HAD BEEN WATCHING THE STORY, SEEING IT DEVELOP THROUGH THE NEWS, AND JUST WAS SHOCKED AT THE LACK OF SUPPORT THAT THESE PEOPLE WHO ARE AMERICANS WERE GETTING.

I WAS LOOKING FOR A WAY TO HELP, AND YOU BNT HAVE A VEHICLE OR ABILITY TO GET THERE, WHEN THE INITIATIVE WAS PUT OUT AND WE WERE ALL GETTING NOTIFICATIONS FROM OUR ADVISERS AND COUNSELORS AT SCHOOL SAYING, HEY, THIS IS A PROGRAM, IF YOU WANT TO BE PART OF IT, YOU HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO GO AND ELICIT SOME REAL CHANGE.

I WAS ON BOARD, APPLIED RIGHT AWAY, AND WAS REALLY, REALLY INTERESTED IN GETTING TO HELP.

YOU HAVE RECENTLY COME BACK FROM YOUR TRIP.

YOU'RE SCHEDULED TO TAKE OFF ON YOURS.

YEAH.

LET ME ASK YOU BOTH A DIFFERENT QUESTION HERE.

FOR YOU, WHAT WERE YOUR EXPECTATIONS?

AND THEN, DID THEY CHANGE AT ALL WHEN YOU ACTUALLY GOT THERE?

SO THEY HAD SORT OF PREFACED US WITH THE FACT THAT WE WERE GOING TO FLY INTO SAN JUAN, AND KOZ MET CALL SAN JUAN IS PRETTY MUCH FUNCTIONAL.

THEY SPENT A LOT OF TIME AND MONEY GETTING IT BACK UP AND RUNNING SO THE TOURISM INDUSTRY COULD BE THRIVING OVER THE SUMMER, WHICH IS IMPORTANT TO PUERTO RICO REBUILDING.

AND THEN I WAS TOLD I WOULD BE WORKING IN A SUBURB OF SAN JUAN.

I THOUGHT IT PROBABLY WON'T BE THAT BAD, DOING WORK AND REBUILDING, BUT IT PROBABLY WON'T BE ABSOLUTE DEVASTATION THE WAY YOU HAD SEEN ON THE NEWS AFTER THE HURRICANE.

WHAT WAS IT?

IT WAS REMARKABLE.

IN WHAT SENSE?

I SPENT ABOUT SEVEN MINUTES ON OUR COMMUTE EVERY DAY FROM WHERE WE WERE STAYING IN SAN JUAN TO THE NEIGHBORHOOD WE WERE GOING TO BE WORKING.

EVERY SINGLE HOME HAD A ROOF THAT WAS RUSTED THROUGH, HAD TARPS COVERING GIANT HOLES IN THEIR ROOFS, PANELS MISSING, PEOPLE HAD TO LEAVE BECAUSE THEY DIDN'T HAVE A ROOF OVER THEIR HEAD.

WHAT SORT OF THINGS WERE YOU ABLE TO DO WHILE YOU WERE THERE?

WE WERE REBUILDING ROOFS, HOMES THAT HAD EITHER CONCRETE OR WOOD SIDES AND WALLS, BUT THEIR ROOFS WERE MADE OF TIN, THE FRAME WAS MADE OF TIN.

WE WERE PULLING OFF RUSTED THROUGH, AND OLD SHEET METAL SERVING AS THEIR ROOF, REPLACING THE FRAMING, WHICH IS WOOD, UNDERNEATH BECAUSE MOST OF THAT HAD BEEN ROTTED FROM THE WATER DAMAGE OR HAD TERMITE INFES INFESTATION OR HAD BEEN BROKEN BY THE WIND, SO REPLACING THE WOOD, AND LAYING DOWN NEW CORRUGATED TIN SHEETS, PROPERLY INSTALLED, BETTER QUALITY MATERIALS PUT IN WITH SCREWS INSTEAD OF NAILS SO THEY WERE LESS LIKELY TO BE LIFTED BY THE WIND, HAVING DONE PROPERLY SO THAT THESE PEOPLE HAVE ROOFS THAT WILL SUSTAIN THEM.

GET THEM THROUGH THE NEXT ONE.

MIRA, WHAT ARE YOUR HOPES?

WHAT DO YOU HOPE YOU WILL BE ABLE TO ACCOMPLISH WHILE YOU'RE THERE?

I'M INSPIRED BY ALL THE WORK THAT ALEAH HAS ACCOMPLISHED BECAUSE I'M JUST WORRIED THAT WHEN I -- WHEN IT'S MY TURN I'M GOING TO BE AT THE CUSP OF HURRICANE SEASON AND THE TEMPERATURES ARE GOING TO BE REALLY HIGH.

I'M A LITTLE BIT GRATEFUL THAT NEW YORK HAS BEEN SUPER HOT.

I FEEL LIKE IT'S PREPARING ME TO BE READY FOR THAT.

YOU'RE CLIMATETIZED.

I'M NERVOUS THE RAIN AND THE TROPICAL STORMS WILL IMPEDE US FROM GETTING WORK DONE.

WE WON'T BE ABLE TO GO OUT THERE AND DO ANYTHING IF IT'S RAINING REALLYAT ONLY CONCERN.

BUT I AM NOT AFRAID TO FACE ANY OF THE DEVASTATION.

I'M NOT -- I MEAN, IT'S REALLY, REALLY SAD.

BUT I THINK THAT, YOU KNOW, THEY NEED STRENGTH AND PEOPLE WHO ARE RESILIENT.

HOW MUCH HOPE WE CAN DERIVE FROM YOUR GENERATION.

ALMOST A YEAR LATER THERE ARE SO MANY STUDENTS WHO ARE -- WANT NOTHING MORE THAN TO BE ABLE TO HELP AND WANT NOTHING MORE THAN TO BE ABLE TO GO EVERY DAY AND SWEAT IT OUT ON ROOFS BECAUSE THEY KNOW THEY'RE CREATING POSITIVE AND HELP PEOPLE THAT HAVE NO OTHER WAY TO HELP THEMSELVES.

WHILE IT WAS HARD TO SEE THE FIRST DAY, AND IT WAS HARD TO LEAVE KNOWING THAT I HADN'T FIXED THE ENTIRE ISLAND, THERE WAS A LOT OF OPTIMISM AND A LOT OF POSITIVITY THAT GOES ALONG WITH BEING ABLE TO LEAVE AND KNOWING THAT STUDENTS LIKE YOU ARE COMING AND THAT THERE ARE MORE STUDENTS COMING AND CONTINUING TO HELP AND FIKX AND REBUILD AND MAKE IT BETTER.

OUR THANKS, THEIR THANKS TO ALL OF YOU, AND CONGRATULATIONS FOR YOUR WILLINGNESS TO STEP UP.

YEAH.

DO SOMETHING POSITIVE AND CREATE SOME HOPE.

GOOD LUCK TO YOU ON YOUR TRIP.

CONGRATULATIONS TO YOU ON YOUR TRIP AND WHAT YOU'VE ACCOMPLISHED.

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

> THE TECH INDUSTRY IS NOT NECESSARILY KNOWN FOR ITS GENDER AND RACIAL INCLUSIVENESS.

BUT THE DAUGHTER OF THE LATE LEGENDARY BUSINESS TIE TAN REGINALD F. LEWIS IS WORKING TO CHANGE ALL THAT.

SHE LAUNCHED A NONPROFIT WORKING ON EDUCATION.

TECH TRAINING AND NAVIGATING UNIQUE BARRIERS HER STUDENTS FACE.

THIS SEGMENT IS PART OF OUR CHASING THE DREAM INITIATIVE ON POVERTY AND OPPORTUNITY IN AMERICA.

JOINING US TODAY WITH ALL THE INFORMATION ON WHAT HER NONPROFIT IS DOING TO HELP, THE FOUNDER AND CEO OF ALL-STAR CODE CHRISTINA LEWIS.

THANK YOU, JACK, FOR HAVING ME.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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