Why Puerto Rico Is the Perfect Destination for Cultural Immersion
When students travel to a new destination, with a culture different than their own, you want to be sure they get the most out of their experience and fully immerse themselves. But how do you successfully do that?
In Puerto Rico, it’s simple.
The true charm of Puerto Rico rests with its optimistic and energetic people. Puerto Ricans are proud of their cultural heritage and history, stemming from a mix of Taíno, Spanish, and African traditions. Whether it’s through music, art, food, traditions, festivals, or one of many other bountiful options, culture is present—and waiting to be discovered—in every corner of this Caribbean paradise.
Students can go where the locals go on this small but mighty island and eat authentic Puerto Rican dishes such as mofongo, tostones, and alcapurrias. The chance to enjoy these delectable delights is a highlight of many trips! As English and Spanish are widely spoken throughout the island, students have a chance to learn as they go and have meaningful cultural exchanges through person-to-person contact.
While venturing through the many towns, cities, and neighborhoods, students can learn about Puerto Rican traditions and ways of life—allowing them a perspective beyond their own. Ever heard of the holiday tradition of parrandas? Don’t be surprised if students bring this one home with them!
Dancing is a way of life in Puerto Rico. If you hear music playing, there are likely people dancing with the beat. Salsa is the most well-known dance style on the island and students—regardless of training—can get in on the action with fun salsa lessons. Many Puerto Ricans will tell you salsa is in their blood!
Folkloric dance workshops provide students with an opportunity to see traditional song and dance in a way that shines a light on Puerto Rican history, through authentic traditional outfits and storytelling. Bomba—one of the oldest traditions on the island—draws participants of all ages. It includes dancing and drumming, and represents a resilient spirit only found in Puerto Rico. Plena, a type of Puerto Rican folk music with African roots, is usually recognized by its simplicity and repetitive phrases, developed in eight measures in two-four time.
Puerto Rico has 240 plant species endemic to the island, meaning students may encounter fruits and vegetables they’ve never seen. By participating in a digital scavenger hunt at a local market, students could challenge themselves to identify and taste foods new to them.
Interacting with other students their age is an ideal way to get a glimpse into what the life of a Puerto Rico high school or middle school student is like. They could ponder what’s similar to and different than their schools back home. Many schools are willing to share their time with visiting students, with performing arts high schools even putting on live music performances and sharing a meal afterward.