I've been honored to have the opportunity to participate in Honolulu Community College's 4th cohort, Ka Papa Keoneʻula, of the Hoʻāla Hou program. Hoʻāla Hou, is a culture and place-based experience program. Throughout this experience, I will be learning methods and best practices which will help me infuse Hawaiian culture and place-based values into my work while also learning more about place, Hawaiian history, language, and traditions.
Orientation started on Thursday, ʻAukake (August) 8th, 2019 in the new hale on campus. There were many protocols, including an ʻoli and hula to introduce our group. We sat in a circle and went around the circle sharing our name, where we are from, and who we would be bringing with us on this journey. After each person spoke, they were then offered a cup of ʻava, which we were told is a narcotic and had to be fully consumed (I didn't feel anything, but wished I would!), and some mea ʻono of sweet potato and maiʻa (banana). I felt nervous. Sometimes anxiety speaking in front of groups hits me. Especially when sharing anything difficult. The person I brought along with me was my mother. I mentioned she'd passed away and was always with me. I couldn't say more without bawling, so stopped there.
What I wish I'd been able to say, is that my mom was the toughest and most self-sacrificing woman I knew, and she was Native Hawaiian. So, I felt she would like being there.
After everyone shared, we went up to the classroom. We discussed the importance of pilina (relationships). An interesting thing was hearing how Hawaiians view the past (and present) as being in front of them -- within eyesight, and how the future is actually behind them ... because you can look over your shoulder and kind of get a glimpse of the future, but you canʻt fully see it. I really liked thinking of it that way. The opposite of what western thinking describes, but in my head, the past always informs the present and the future... so it mades perfect sense to me. We were told to write down what our expectations of the program were, and report to the Marine Education Technical Center the next day.
I arrived at the METC, not quite sure what to expect. Then, was super stoked to find out we would be going out on a canoe! Also, we were going on a huakaʻi of Nuʻuanu. At the METC, we learned about Keʻehi and the islands and fish ponds that were abundant in the area before the reef runway was built and land owners filled in fish ponds to give themselves more land. I had no idea. It was eye-opening.
Being on the canoe, I couldn't help but be sad I'd made the unfortunate decision to leave my cell phone in the classroom. It was so beautiful and special to be out in the ocean in a canoe so close to the water. The view of the mountains along Nuʻuanu, and of Diamond Head were truly unique. I also thought about the fact that my ancestors were descendant of people, brave and smart enough to make incredible voyages across the Pacific, and felt really proud.
On our tour in the afternoon, we visited Queen Emma Summer Palace. My first time. And we also visited the Royal Mausoleum where King Kalākaua and the Kamehameha line are buried (except for Kamehameha I, whose remains are sacred and their location, a secret to this day). Before descending down to the crypt of Kalākaua, a hula was performed, and we walked down and up the stairs, always facing the King, so we walked up backwards to show respect by never turning our back on the King.
It was my first time visiting this site, which is neither City & County, or State property, but Royal lands. While we did not see the Hawaiian flag flying, we learned this is one (of only 2 places) where the American flag does not fly alongside or above the Hawaiian flag.
Dropping Mad Library Science!
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