The following blog is a submission by Sophia R., a student in my 6th grade Spanish class. Upon returning from a week-long trip to Puerto Rico, I shared my experiences with my Spanish classes and we discussed the history, culture, geography, and the island’s recovery efforts from Hurricane Maria which struck the island on September 22 of 2017. Through these discussions, Sophia shared with the class an amazing song that spoke of the many cities and towns that were adversely affected by Maria. Many of these places I was able to visit on my trip and I witnessed some of this destruction firsthand. Despite the widespread destruction and trauma experienced by all on the island post-Maria, it is the resilience, generosity, and pride of the Puerto Rican people that stood out to me. The song ‘Almost Like Praying’ captures these qualities beautifully and served as an inspiration to the Puerto Rican people that by working together, they could rebuild the Puerto Rico that they love so much. Thank you for sharing Sophia!

Over fall break my school’s Spanish teacher, Señor Harssema, went to Puerto Rico in hopes of starting a middle school trip to the island. While he was there, he interviewed his tour guide, Hector, and asked him about Hurricane Maria. When break ended, he discussed the trip in class and learned about Puerto Rico’s culture. We also learned about the devastation of the hurricane, which hit the island on September 20, 2017.

While talking about the hurricane, I (being the random and intelligent person I am) brought up the song, ‘Almost Like Praying.’ Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote this song to help raise money for relief efforts for Hurricane Maria. He got the idea from the song ‘Maria’ from the musical West Side Story. The song is sung by Lin-Manuel Miranda himself, and artists from Puerto Rico (which includes Jennifer Lopez, Camila Cabello, Gloria Estefan, Fat Joe, Marc Anthony, Rubén Blades, Pedro Capó, Dessa, Luis Fonsi, Juan Luis Guerra, Alex Lacamoire, John Leguizamo, Rita Moreno, Ednita Nazario, Joell Ortiz, Anthony Ramos, Gina Rodriguez, Gilberto Santa Rosa, PJ Sin Suela, Ana Villafañe and Tommy Torres, and that one coquí frog). I had listened to a Song Explorer on this song and thought it was a great song and piece of trivia, so I put together a presentation for my class. Then Señor Harssema asked me to write an article for the school’s website, and I said yes. All the above is the result. I hope you enjoyed it.


This is the video of Señor Harssema interviewing Hector (please ignore his son):

Here is the SongExploder on Almost Like Praying (contains mild language):

And here is the official music video: