Rivalry aside: Notre Dame and Michigan come together to tell the stories of Puerto Rico's hurricane recovery efforts

Author: Sue Ryan

After their football teams’ four-year hiatus from play, fans can expect fierce competition when the University of Notre Dame and University of Michigan teams hit the gridiron Sept. 1. But off the field, the universities have put their rivalry aside in a collaboration to remind the world of those who, inspired by hope and community, continue to overcome the devastation  caused when Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico on Sept. 20, 2017.

Faculty and staff from both schools have come together to present “Listening to Puerto Rico,” a free online global learning opportunity developed jointly by the two universities.

Through “Listening to Puerto Rico,” Notre Dame and Michigan will give voice to the people of Puerto Rico as they tell their stories of the island’s devastation and recovery over the past year. “Listening to Puerto Rico” also uniquely tells the uplifting stories of optimism, resilience and hope as island residents look to their future. A video preview of the course featuring University of Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., and University of Michigan President Mark S. Schlissel is available here.

Marisel Moreno, associate professor of Latino/a Literature in the Department of  Romance Languages and Literatures at Notre Dame, and Thomas F. Anderson, the Dr. William M. Scholl Professor of Latin American Literature and chair of the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, along with University of Michigan colleague Will Potter, senior academic innovation fellow and a member of the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts faculty, visited Puerto Rico this summer and conducted more than 30 interviews with Puerto Rican community members. These stories are combined with articles, documentaries and other learning materials to provide learners with a deeper knowledge of the island and its people.

Course registration is available at listeningtopuertorico.org. Participants in the online course will be encouraged to continue supporting Puerto Ricans by connecting with agencies on the island working to restore infrastructure and rebuild the country’s economy.

In addition to the online class, Notre Dame will host a panel discussion at 4:30 p.m. Aug. 31 (Friday) in the Eck Visitors Center featuring Moreno, Anderson and other Notre Dame faculty from Puerto Rico. The panel will discuss the current state of affairs on the island and offer commentary on next steps and future solutions. 

Contribute your own voice to the archive of filmed experiences of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. Professional filmmakers will be in the first-floor teaching studio in the Martin Media Center at Corbett Hall from 6 to 8 p.m. Aug. 31. The recording is free and open to all. 

On Sept. 12 (Wednesday) at 5 p.m., Notre Dame students from Puerto Rico will join Anderson and Moreno for a live-streamed discussion on how Hurricane Maria impacted them, their families and their communities. 

To enroll in the free online course or to learn more, visit listeningtopuertorico.org.