In the 2018-2019 academic year, approximately 150 undergraduate students from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez participated in an ongoing large-scale public humanities project, “Mi María: Puerto Rico after the Hurricane.” As active collaborators on the project, students conducted research, collected oral histories and other multimodal forms of self-narration, crafted digital projects, and curated aspects of the Humanities Action Lab exhibition and our breakout exhibition dedicated to Puerto Rico.

This project is part of a larger curriculum of disaster pedagogy that Dr. Chansky has designed to foster empowerment in her students in the aftermaths of Hurricane María. This curriculum reinforces the positive roles that self-narrating and witnessing can play in recovery as they are able to help narrators re-envision themselves as active agents after experiences of trauma by repositioning them as protagonists in their life stories. Life stories function as bridges forward to a new self (a tentative reconciling of the pre- and post-disaster self) that may very well allow us to continue in different ways the business of living.