Puerto Rico's Rainforest

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June 9: "It couldn't arrive soon enough ... and then it did!"

Kris Miyashiro Close UpSubmitting an application for something like this can be intimidating and exciting all rolled into one. Will our applications be successful? Counting down the days to the deadline when the team members were selected was like waiting for Christmas Day to arrive. It couldn’t arrive soon enough…and then it did. After furiously checking our email every day for a couple of months, the all-important email arrived. “Congratulations” was the first word in the email. We were one of the chosen few.  Let the expedition begin! Where were we when we found out? Some of us were at work when we found out. To the dismay of some of our co-workers, they were the first to hear us scream and see us jump up and down. (My boss temporarily lost his hearing in one ear.) Some of us were in a meeting where jumping up and down wasn’t so appropriate but internally, that’s exactly what we did. Some of us were at home either just settling down for the night or just getting ready for work so our immediate family members were the first to share the exciting news with us. And, some of us were just arriving back into the country only to find out that we would be travelling abroad once again very soon. 
Alcoa is the common denominator between all the team members and it is Alcoa who has drawn us together to share in this amazing experience. But that being said; we all have different lifestyles, come from different backgrounds and each of us has different interests. That is why it is so interesting to read about the backgrounds and expectations of each team member. Rita is looking forward to learning more about scientific experiments. As a social scientist, she’s looking at broadening her scientific background by  Photo-butovsky  learning about the forest. Ruslan, with a background in sustainable development, can’t wait to explore the Caribbean basin because most of his experience is with Eastern/Southern Africa and Asia. He is an “insect man” and wants to meet with all his large and small “New World” friends. Samantha’s interest lies with learning about the reforestation initiative within the region along with teambuilding with other Alcoans/volunteers. Tiago believes this will be a life changing experience for him. What he learns from his interactions with the scientists and each team member will be used not only in helping the local community, but upon his return, he intends on sharing his experience with as many people as possible. Helgi is excited about meeting new people, learning about nature, research work and learning all she can about the amazing culture of Puerto Rico. Renata’s background in biology has definitely prepared her for the work ahead. Her goal is to successfully learn and  Renata_Novais  communicate in English with the help from her team members.  Mauro's  comments were too priceless. Here is what he wrote: “Imagine, I’m going to Puerto Rico. I’m meeting new friends and I’m getting in touch with a totally different culture. Contributing to improve life quality and achieving a more sustainable world; what else could I want? THIS IS WONDERFUL! It feels like a dream.” I’m looking forward to the sights, the sounds and the smells of the forest. It will be a very rewarding experience working with a team of people from Brazil, Iceland, the United States, Russia and Canada and seeing things from a global perspective.
With June 10th quickly approaching it appears that excitement is colliding with nervousness for most. Some  Mauro Salles  can’t wait for the adventure to begin. Not everyone has had a chance to travel so, this fellowship brings forth a rare opportunity. Others have a few butterflies in their stomachs. Do I have all the gear I need? Have I prepared enough for the daily physical challenges? Will language be a barrier in learning and communicating with my team members? And others are conquering the last minute details as they arise without concern. It will be very intriguing too see what we discover and how well we embrace the challenges that are ahead. Please follow our journey in future blogs.
Editor's note: Our first blog post is a team post from the five Alcoa and three Community Fellowship team member’s blog submissions. (Mauro Salles, Samantha Stephens, Helgi Laxdal Helgason, Tiago Borges, Kris Miyashiro, and Ruslan Butovsky, Maria Rita Villela, Renata Novais). It's compiled by blog team captain Kris Miyashiro. Watch her profile video here.