African Heritage & Musical Expression

Puerto Rico

Duration 9 days
Suggested group size 12 - 20 students / 2 Envoys Field Staff
Suggested ages 14 - 18
Experience Youth Leadership and Agency
Cultural Immersion


Musical Expression of Puerto Rico's African Heritage

Puerto Rico

Bomba is a traditional Afro-Puerto Rican musical genre whose future is at risk with the various cultural and economic interests at play on the island. Students meet ethnomusicologists and community organizers to dive into the significance of Bomba in Puerto Rican history and modern day life. Through Bomba experts in Ponce and San Juan, students learn about the family-driven traditions in both cities. Students also explore other issues like the statehood battle and disaster capitalism.

“In the rhythm of salsa and beneath the shade of historic forts, Puerto Rico's landscapes tell tales of resilience, cultural richness, and the vibrant spirit of la isla del encanto.“


“Salsa rhythms in palms, El Yunque's lush tales, Caribbean charm.“


Impact Statement Everywhere we go, we carry a promise – to engage with respect, act with purpose, and leave a positive imprint. As envoys of our journey is more than travel; Our footprint is light, but our impact is profound, creating bridges of cooperation and mutual growth across the globe.

Day 1

Upon arrival the group meets their Envoys educators, settles in, and enjoys a Puerto Rican lunch during program orientation. Afterwards students take an exploratory walk engaging with residents. After dinner, a framing activity introduces the next day's focus on Puerto Rico's statehood.

Day 2

After breakfast we join a local historian for a tour of Old San Juan and later split into smaller groups to explore art galleries. In the afternoon, an Envoys-led tour explores San Juan's architecture, assets, and a discussion on the housing crisis, and impact of tourism and development.

Day 3

We take a bus to Adjuntas, engaging in an Asset-Based Community Development conversation en route. We meet with Casa Pueblo representatives, exploring their community projects. After lunch, we collaborate with Bosque Escuela in a design thinking workshop, conducting empathic interviews in Adjuntas.

Day 4

After breakfast, we visit Centro Paz Para Ti, supporting women in social entrepreneurship, housing, and gardening. After lunch, we head to Ponce for interviews. In the afternoon, we create zines about Puerto Rican culture and end the day with a soccer game and dinner.

Day 5

We head out to the Centro Ceremonial Indigena de Tibes, a significant Taino ceremonial site. We explore stone-lined courts, learn Taino history, and have lunch. Later, we hike at Cascada Chorro de Doña Juana, practicing plant identification. Back in San Juan, we relax, debrief, and have dinner.

Day 6

We travel to Loiza and visit renowned artists' studios. Later, at Taller Comunidad La Goyco, we learn about Bomba art forms in Puerto Rico's statehood movement. We connect with local Bomba artists for lessons, performances, and conversation. The day ends with a picnic dinner at Playa Piñones.

Day 7

The morning features a cooking class, and we later enjoy the results for lunch. Later we engage with local students and invite them to join our upcoming hike. The day concludes with a mesmerizing kayak tour to witness bioluminescent creatures, fostering a profound connection with nature.

Day 8

We rise early for El Yunque National Park, starting with a Leave No Trace workshop and insights from park management. A day of exploration and citizen science follows, prompting reflections on environmental conservation challenges and rewards over dinner, concluding with a return to San Juan.

Day 9

After breakfast we pack our bags and store them in our hotel while we go to the historic lighthouse Faro del Castillo San Felipe del Morro. We spend time reflecting and journaling on the beach, and then conduct our program closing ceremony. We then pick up our bags and head to the airport.

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Lenses of Inquiry


Cultural Immersion

Students will immerse in Puerto Rico’s unique blend of Spanish, African, and Taino presence in music, cuisine, and traditions. They will connect with warm-hearted locals who proudly share their traditions and stories, experiencing real moments of exchange and growth in cross-cultural understanding.


Youth Leadership & Agency

Students actively lead and contribute to the program, and explore youth leadership in Puerto Rico. The program deepens understanding of Puerto Rico's global relevance, with direct interactions focusing on youth leaders' contributions to democratic institutions, climate change and social justice.


Sustainable Development Goals

Students delve into the application of UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Puerto Rico, meeting with leaders working toward key SDGs. They assess the island's progress and identify barriers. Interactions with experts provide key insights into the complexities of these issues.


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