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Proposal for a Class Trip

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LANG 901 / NAS 006 North American Cultural Studies
Winter semester 2013/14
Class trip to Puerto Rico
This paper proposes a class trip to Puerto Rico from the 10th to the 24th of March 2014. The first period in San Juan includes activities revolving around the indigenous Taino culture, e.g. their cuisine, musical instruments and history. Guided tours extend on the history of Puerto Rico as we visit the majestic fortifications by the Spanish settlers. Other activities during the first period are salsa lessons, shopping at the fruit market and adventure tours in the reef and rainforest. The second period begins with a visit to Cappara site, archaeological evidence of the first settlement, and ends with camping at famous east-coast beaches. The third period includes a guided jungle survival tour in El Yunque, a Guánica history tour, a visit to the Art Musuem, scuba diving and wall diving. Celebrations (i.e. shows, concerts, dancing etc.) on the streets conclude the third period with the national holiday Día de la Emancipación where students are going to join in. Special attention is going to be given to the costs and educational activities of the second period to substantiate the claim that the present proposal for a class trip is appropriate and promising. We leave our luggage at the New Island Hostel and walk 2.5 km to the Tren Urbano Sagrado Urazon, the train station, where we buy a day saver ticket for $5 to get to Caparra site. The Spanish settlers made this their home more than 500 years ago and you can see the archaeological evidence of the first settlement at the Caparra Ruins Museum and Historic Park. As you walk in the gates, you see a large plaque that describes the rock foundation of Ponce de León’s house. The plaque is in Spanish. One of the Spanish students will translate these sentences into English, explain the spanish grammar and paraphrase them. This presentation is to be prepared in Germany under the supervision of the Spanish teacher. After that, another student will elaborate on these historical facts and evaluate them. This presentation is to be prepared in Germany under the superversion of the history teacher. The student who gives this presentation should mention, for example, that Caparra was founded by Juan Ponce de Leon, the first governor of the island in 1508, and was abandoned in 1521 with the removal of the capital to San Juan or that Ponce de León’s residence was a fortress to protect townspeople from attacks. The other students are going to take notes and pictures during these presentations because they supposed to write one page about this quick trip in their learning journal. Admission to these grounds and this museum is free. Then, we go to the train station in Guyanabo and leave for Bayamon (with the daysaver ticket purchased in San Juan) to go shopping at Santa Rosa Mall, the only shopping center adjacent to an Urban Train Station (El Deportivo) at a 2 minute walking distance. Santa Rosa Mall hosts the biggest skating rink in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. This park is located on the fifth floor of the mall and is the main attraction of many children and young adults. In case of an injury sustained through roller skating, the cost for treatment will be covered by STA Travel health insurance, a short time travel insurance which costs 15 euros per person. But most students will probably be more interested in shopping at Sears, Game Stop, Payless Shoe Source,, Marianne, Zalesa and Radio Shack. And even more students will be hungry and can satisfy their appetite at restaurants such as Dunkin Donuts and Denny’s Restaurant where you can eat typical American food. After spending 3 hours in this relatively small shopping mall, we are ready to go the adjecent train station and leave for San Juan. Again, we already paid a small price for the daysaver ticket in San Juan, only $5.00. We use that ticket again. On the train, students start writing about Caparra site in their learning journal while the experts who gave the presentation offer help and answer questions. In San Juan, we fetch our luggage at the hostel and take the bus to Balneario of Luquillo, a famous beach at the east-coast. The costs are $21 per person for a 28-miles-bus-ride. The destination Balneario of Luquillo is palm-dotted and crescent-shaped opening onto a lagoon with calm waters and a wide, sandy bank. There are lockers, tent sites, showers, picnic tables, and food stands that sell a sampling of the island’s frituras (i.e. cod fritters and tacos) and you can also snorkel among the living reefs with lots of tropical fish. For these activities, pocket money in the amount of $30 is required. To stay at the best equipped and safest campground by the government Compañia de Parques Nacionales costs between $15 and $25 per night per tent. Any additional costs which may arise are around $65 for a bug spray, a spanish phrasebook to break down cultural barriers and integrate with the locals, sunscreen and a water bottles, a day-pack, a good pair of walking shoes and sun glasses or a sun hat. These cost should also cover the purchase of two of the following books: When I Was Puerto Rican by Esmeralda Santiago; Sataniada by Alejandro Tapia y Rivera; The Rum Diary by Hunter S Thompson; La llamarada by Dr Enrique Laguerre; Song of the Simple Truth: The Complete Poems of Julia De Burgos; Spiks by Pedro Juan Soto; Puerto Rican Obituary by Pedro Pietri; The Benevolent Masters by Enrique A Laguerre; El Gíbaro by Manuel Alonso; The History of Puerto Rico: From the Spanis Discovery to the American Occupation by RA Van Middeldyk. The students will pick and choose one of these literary best sellers whereas and additional book about the history of Puerto Rico is mandetory. The aim is to write two to three pages in their learning journal about each of these two books. One third of the respective papers deals with facts, the second third with personal and corresponding experiences and the third third deals with a conclusion how reading these books has changed their view of the experiences they made in Puerto Rico. Ample time for students to read their books, reflect upon them and their experiences and write their learning journals will be available since we stay at Luqiollo Beach for two days and camp at Flamenco beach for three days. On the second beach day, students have basically two options: they can stay at the beach, swim, snorkel among the spectacular sea life, go back and buy some groceries at an adjecent shop, cook, read their books, finalize their learning journals, practice the salsa dancing moves, practice and play the card game Truco and/or just relax at the beach. This can be a time of relaxation, reading, reflection and writing. Or, and that is option two, they can explore Luquillo a little bit. For this purpose, students need to get a map, pair up in groups of three, a mobile phone and get $50 for grocery shopping in Luquillo. On the third beach day, we travel to Culebra by ferry. The Puerto Rico Port Authority operates one or two ferries per day from the mainland port of Fajardo to Culebra; the trip takes about an hour. The round-trip fare to Culebra is $4.50 for adults. Culebra is a tranquil, inviting little island where we will camp. Those students who forget, destroy or lose their camping equipment or want additional camping equipment such as a hammock have another option which is to rent most of your gear once you are on Culebra. The kiosk charges $20/night for a tent, plus a $50 deposit. But the first thing we are going to do is getting our supplies as soon as we get to Culebra. Colmado Milka is only a few blocks away from the ferry dock — just over the orange bridge. Then we need bikes to get around. You can rent mountain bikes at Dick and Cathy for $15 for 24 hours. Then we go to Flamenco Beach by bike to camp on the north shore. It costs $20 per tent per night. After having errected the tents, one student is going to give a presentation on the historical events that took place in Culebra while the other students take notes of the historical facts. These notes serve as a basis for their learning journal in which students reflect upon their experiences and thoughts during these two days. The student who gives the presentation might mention that Culebra was settled as a Spanish colony in 1886, but like Puerto Rico and Vieques, it became part of the United States after the Spanish-American War in 1898. In fact, Culebra’s only town, the fishing village Dewey, our first destionation on Culebra, was named for Admiral George Dewey, a U.S. hero of that war. In 1939, the U.S. Navy began to use the Culebra Archipelago as a gunnery and bombing practice site which is why there are still quiet a lot of old tanks at the beaches. The student who gives the presentation can elaborate on these facts. Then, students are supposed to buy groceries in Dewey and after they come back they can relax or roam the island in groups of at least 3 students. On the next day, after breakfast, we hike to Playa Brava through the wild life refuge where one student is going to give a Presentation about the lizards, birds and, at the beach, about the flamingo and sea turtle turtles. Then we will have a pic nic on this beach. After that, we return to our camping site. Students can use the rest of the day to relax at the beach or to explore the small island with a map and a cell phone in groups of at least 2 students. On the next day, we will go to Playa Rosario which is next to Flamenco Beach. All you need do is walk over the hill to Playa Carlos Rosario. The sands here aren’t quite as good as those at Flamenco, but the snorkeling is even better in these clear waters. A barrier reef protects this beach, so you are almost guaranteed tranquil waters. Snorkelers can also walk south from Playa Carlos Rosario for 1⁄4 mile (.4km) to a place called “The Wall” . There are 40-foot (12m) drop-offs into the water where you are likely to see schools of fish gliding by. Then, we return to the camping site to have lunch. After that, go on a boating trip. Culebra’s only glass-bottomed boat, the Tanama Glass Bottom Boat (%787-501-0011; trips $25-40) offers some really fantastic two-hour harbor cruises in and around the various reefs, snorkeling trips with equipment included, and trips out to Culebrita. The boat can generally be found at the Dinghy Dock in Dewey near the ferry dock. In conclusion, the second period of our stay is more educational and relaxing than the first and third period which is absolutely necessary because you can only enjoy a beautiful place like Puerto Rico and cultivate awareness for the process of writing learning journals if you are in relaxed state of mind which is exactly what we intend to achieve at Puerto Rico's best beaches in the second period. Although reading two books and writing learning journals takes up enough time and students too need freedom, more activities would look good on paper. But the students need to recuperate from acitivities of the first period such as the diving in the reef and the tours through the rainforest to have the physical strength and motivation necessary for the subsequent jungle survival tour in El Yunque and the wall diving. Not only does the hot climate of Puerto Rico make you want to relax anyway because it is hot just about every day of the year, and the glare from surrounding water and white sand add to that hotness. But you also need to strike a motivating balance between activity and relaxation to make this trip educational and a vacation.…...

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