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Day Six: Jackets Without Borders

With its fourth installment in 2022, this year’s Jackets Without Borders trip returned to Puerto Rico to continue rehabilitation efforts from the storms that devastated the island in 2017. This year, Georgia Tech athletics sent a group of 16 student-athletes and four staff members to help the community of Villa del Rio continue to rebuild from the effects of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Full release. Follow along as showcases the trip through it’s student-athlete’s voices.

From the voice of Will Milam – Football, r-Fr., Powder Springs, Ga.

“These past few days in Puerto Rico have been a blessing for me. We take a lot of things for granted because of the country that we live in, but the reality is that we are very blessed to live in a place where we are given opportunities every day.

Puerto Rico has taught me that determination is the most valuable thing we have. We can change the world one brick at a time by just taking the first step towards a greater future.

We were assigned a THREE-DAY project that we finished in two days. For the last day, we worked on Señor Willie’s roof and we worked together to shape rebar to fit in the areas where it was needed so that it could survive a hurricane. We also moved a couple of pieces that we made to another house so that their house can also be reinforced.

I have been blessed enough to give back to a community that needs help. It has been one of the best experiences I have had, and I implore any of you to try it and give back to people around the world.”

From the voice of Jaylon King – Football, r-Jr., La Vergne, Tenn.

“Waking up this morning and loading the bus at 9 am the group and I knew it was time to finish what we started yesterday. To recap yesterday and give some background, we mixed cement, water, sand, and gravel to create a concrete mixture, which is then used as the foundation of Angel’s son’s, Anthony, new home. Being new to the process and determining each other’s strength, the first day on the work site was a little slow. After our lunch we were able to implement a process that would allow us to work faster and be more efficient in transporting the concrete and laying it down. The change in progress was exponential. Before lunch it seemed as if we only filled an eighth of the foundation but after adopting a new process we left the site with nearly half the foundation laid.

Now that we’re all caught up, we can talk about today’s progress. After the bus dropped us off at the site we hit the ground running. Using the new style we adopted yesterday, everyone knew where to go and what job they were performing. This led to minimal downtime and maximum efficiency. By the time lunch rolled around we had an eighth of the foundation down.

For lunch we enjoyed a nice home-cooked meal prepared by Angel’s wife, Maria. She blessed us with some wings, salad, pasta, and rice/beans. I personally enjoyed lunch because it forces you to socialize with the people you’re working with and get to know them. It’s a little bit different when you’re on the job site.

After lunch we completed the rest of the foundation in a little less than an hour. Once the last bit of concrete was laid, there was an abundance of emotions throughout the group.  The most expressed emotions were relief and excitement. Relief because the work was tough and no matter which shift you were on your body felt some sort of wear and tear. Excitement because we finished a three-day project in less than two days and were able to spend the rest of the day as we liked.

Upon the return to the house, we quickly cleaned up and slid to the beach to relax. Near the beach was a restaurant, Solymar, which is where we decided to have an unscheduled group dinner. As much as I loved eating rice and beans and other Puerto Rican dishes, I had to get some American food. I settled for some BBQ and buffalo wings with a side of fries. To conclude the day, we went back to the house and played games such as uno, volleyball, spades, and soccer.”

From the voice of Mike Maye – Football, r-Jr., Hoover, Ala.

“Today was a day full of camaraderie and teamwork. Today was the second day of building the foundation for the future home that is being built for a hurricane survivor in Puerto Rico. The team built formations, assembly lines, and designated roles in order for over 20 people to complete this project. Here in this picture is the final stretch of finishing the foundation for the house, where you can see me holding buckets for those shoveling to shove the cement mix into the bucket in an efficient manner. I personally thought this job was not very important because I was shoveling sand, rocks, cement and making sure all elements of concrete mix were getting into the mixing machine.

After completing the role of holding buckets for those shoveling, I realized that no particular role is less important than the other. Teamwork is essential to complete a task no matter how tedious the role might be. I saw that my companions also took on this mindset and accepted whatever role they had on the project. My companions from GT and I used this mentality to complete the foundation in a record-breaking time of TWO days! We worked very hard to get this done and without the unselfishness of the team we would not be able to achieve these results. Thank you Global Works for bettering my mentality and showing me what a group of people can do when we all focus on the task at hand!”

From the voice of Carmyn Harrison – Women’s Basketball, So., Memphis, Tenn.

“Day four of our trip marked the first day of construction in Villa del Rio! When we arrived, we only saw piles of rock, sand, and a concrete mixer named “El Trumpo”. William, a resident of Villa del Rio and Global Works partner, explained the process of mixing concrete. We divided ourselves into groups and the work began. By noon we had poured a fourth of the foundation and it was lunch time.

At Angel’s house, another local resident and Global Works partner, we fellowshipped over some great food and heard Angel and his magician-of-a-cook wife Maria tell us their story of persevering through Hurricane Maria in 2017. Angel and other residents of Villa del Rio lost their homes, but through the difficulties Angel reminded us of an important principle of life – To always be gracious to others and show gratitude for what you have. Angel is one of many stories here in Villa del Rio and Georgia Tech is grateful to be a part of such a giving mission.”

From the voice of Avyonce Carter – Women’s Basketball, Jr., Norcorss, Ga.

“Today we began our work on the foundation of a house! We learned how concrete is made. The process took about four different steps. First, we gathered four buckets of water and then eight buckets of rock. Next, we mixed in three bags of cement, and lastly, we mixed in 10 buckets of dirt to create concrete. Communication within our group was a major key point of our success today. Once we found an efficient system, everyone made sure to do their part.

We had the opportunity to meet Angel and his family.  It was very exciting meeting Angel and his family because they have a close relationship with Georgia Tech. It was also interesting to hear Angel’s story about him losing his home. He gave out a lot of advice about how important it is to be a good human no matter the circumstances and to always give to others in any way you can. Today was very successful and I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings!”

From the voices of Recebba Lieber and Lucas Rary – Cheer

“Today we had another great day in Puerto Rico. We kicked the day off with some breakfast and immediately headed to El Yunque Rainforest for a waterfall hike! The weather was great in the forest, which was a pleasant break from the heat in the city of San Juan.  We put our helmets and life vests on and began scaling rocks and crossing streams. We were able to do a little bit of cliff jumping and swimming in the fresh water.

Some highlights include doing some flips off the rocks, getting to slide down the natural rock slides with best friends, and seeing everyone else have a great time. We also enjoyed the teamwork that was present throughout our hike as we all encouraged each other to try new things such as jumping off the tall cliffs.

After our hike, we went to a beachside lunch and enjoyed fresh grouper! Then, we spent some more time souvenir shopping before we went back to the beach. Even though it was a little rainy, Rebecca and I had a great time exploring the coral.

To finish the day, we participated in group bonding activities led by our group leaders. We took a moment as a group and set our intentions for the next day. We are all ready to gear up and truly perform for the next three days.

We are in great spirits and excited for this opportunity ahead of us as we begin building the foundation of an entire home!”

From the voices of Luke Moseley (Football, r-Sophomore, Calhoun, Ga.) and Colin Hemingway (Football – r-Freshman, Boyds, Md.)

“Today was another great day. We woke up to fresh coffee and a great breakfast. We then loaded the bus and headed to Old San Juan for the day to learn about the rich history of Puerto Rico. Our tour was led by Alvin who spent the entirety of the day with us while there.

We started at “umbrella street” with the beautiful white butterflies hanging over head. We then headed to “Paseo la Princesa,” a walking path on the coast with an amazing view of the blue water in the San Juan Bay. Shortly after we made it to El Morro fort. Some stayed to explore the fort and it’s inner workings while others split off and headed to Carmelo Anthony court. While at the fort, we were able to walk into different housing areas and work stations which was really cool. We got to see the beautiful coastline from the lookout and some really old canons.

The basketball court was super cool. It had crazy patterns on it and colorful stands and you could definitely tell it would be a “must see” while in San Juan. Things quickly got competitive at the court. They played HORSE and Lele (Eylia Love) won. They also played Knock-Out (Reid won) and a three-point contest. Eric (one of our trip hosts/guides) decided to roll his ankle trying to play basketball in flip flops.

For lunch we had beef steak and tostones while others had chicken with rice and beans, or pork chops. After lunch we did a bit of souvenir shopping and piled back on the bus to head home. The bus ride back was very quiet with the majority of people napping or at least trying to.

When we got back to Casa Coral, some headed right to the beach to enjoy more of the sun and refreshing water. There, Reid also decided to land on my sunglasses and break them. Others stayed back to nap until dinner arrived. We then finished the day with another amazing dinner before sleeping to get ready for the next day.”

From the voice of Myles Sims – Football, r-Junior, Atlanta, Ga.

“Today has been quite a day! It was very exciting and quite relaxing. This morning at 9 a.m., our crew met at Bobby Dodd Stadium to head out! Once we got to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport, we had two hours until our departure. The flight took a total of three hours. Personally, I decided to sleep the entire way because I was completely drained from graduation the day before.

Once we landed in Puerto Rico, we met our guides, Lauren and Eric, who patiently escorted our crew to our hostels or so called “SHUTS”. The rooms are small, but our bunk beds do a great job at keeping floor space open. Once everyone was situated and settled, we took a brief stroll on the beach!!! SUCH AN AMAZING VIEW!!😍😍. Words won’t do justice. The weather wasn’t the best, but the sprinkles created a complete and full rainbow across the beach!

After our stroll came to an end, the entire crew gathered up for dinner at the men’s SHUT! We enjoyed some baby back ribs, mashed plantains and slaw salad. Tomorrow we’ll have more time for activities that we want to experience. Everyone is excited and ready to get started!!”


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