Time out in Peck Middle School in New England happens in the Puerto Rican rainforest. For years now, Gerardo Munoz, one of the Puerto Ricans that make up half of the population of Holyoke, Massachusetts, has grown an indoor plant garden with seeds from la isla’s vegetation. He calls it “El Yunque” after Puerto Rico’s national park. Muñoz is a school outreach worker at Peck, and El Yunque is the legacy he wants to leave to the teachers and students of his school. In this piece, Karen Brown goes to El Yunque, where teachers and students go to find the peace and warmth of the Puerto Rican jungle.
Karen Brown is a reporter at New England Public Radio in Western Massachusetts, and a freelance print and radio contributor for The Boston Globe, NPR, Harvard Public Health Magazine, and other outlets. She was a Knight Fellow in Science Journalism at MIT and is currently a fellow with the Association of Health Care Journalists. She tends to report on health, mental health, and social issues.
Photo courtesy of Karen Brown