b'Having experienced a 5.8 tremor just the day before,he knew this was another quake. I remember think-ing: Will this building be strong enough, or will itcollapse? I immediately dropped to the floor by mybed to take cover, says Father Aeses.For several seconds that morning, the ground inSan Juan shook, causing a blackout across Puerto Rico,PHOTO: RICH DAVIS PHOTO: RICH DAVISand damaging homes and businesses on the southerncoast where one person was killed. In those earth- They also looked at the earthquakes as a teachableshattering moments, people across the island heldtheir breaths and wondered, Will this ever stop? moment. We have to learn from this and move for-recalls Pilar Gerena, whose son, Diego, is a senior at ward, says Pedro Gerena, Pilars husband. We alsoColegio San Jos (CSJ), a Marianist-sponsored school need to be sensitive to those in the south who havein San Juan. lost so much.The quakes were yet another blow in a series of Lessons from the quake zoneevents to rattle this United States territory in the pasttwo and a half years. First, there was Hurricane Maria. Ponce, the fourth-largest city in Puerto Rico, and townsIf we accept our Next, came the resignation of Governor Ricardo nearest to the epicenter of the quake zone suffered thehuman vulnerability Rossellthe result of angry citizens fed up with most damage. In January, the earthquakes had forcedand place our trustgovernment corruption and demanding change. Now, more than 8,000 people to live outdoors in makeshiftin God, its easierthe island is reeling from the effects of hundreds of tents or government camps. Some had lost theirto cope with theseearthquakes that began assaulting southern Puerto homes. Others, fearful of sleeping in unstable build-challenges. Rico on Dec. 28. While experts say several underwater ingsshould the next quake hitfelt it was saferfault zones are to blame, they are still analyzing data sleeping outdoors. Father Armando Josto determine why the quakes continue. To help these newly homeless, Puerto Rican citizensAeses, SM Reacting to the earthquakes, the Marianists, students quickly organized caravans to bring much-neededand families at CSJ did what they almost always do supplies to the area. CSJ students did their part. Thein times of extraordinary stress: They prayed. They students collected bottled water, nonperishable food,reached out to help those in need. And, in spite of towels, diapers, toiletries and other essentials, saysthese events, they lightened their spirits using gallows Marianist Brother Francisco Gonzlez, president of CSJ. humor, a Puerto Rican trait for surviving the worst Permanent housing is the most difficult issueof lifes challenges. We use humor to help us forget that people displaced by the earthquakes face, saysLay Marianists Pilar and Pedro Marianist Father Don Wallace. That may take manyGerena the bad and remember the good, says Pilar.months, if not years. Father Wallace, 84, once served ata former Marianist high school in Ponce and has beenin ministry in Puerto Rico for 59 years. (For a historyof the Marianists in Puerto Rico, visit marianist.com/PuertoRicoHistory.) He continues to assist part timeat CSJ. Recovering from a severe natural disaster takes thehelp of many people. Besides encouraging studentsto act with solidarity and empathy, there are otherlessons that students can learn from the earthquakes.They remind us that life is fragile, says Father Aeses.We need to do everything we can to protect it. Wealso need to be prudent and follow the basic rules ofearthquake preparedness.Natural disasters also teach students that they arenot God, and there are many things they cannot con-trol, says Father Aeses. If we accept our humanvulnerability and place our trust in God, its easier tocope with these challenges.6 Call 1.800.348.4732'