To teach the students, you have to engage the teachers first. And the teaches need to believe in what you are doing is meaningful and transformative.
Aʻo Hawaiʻi is a partnership between the College of Education at UH-Mānoa, the Polynesian Voyaging Society and other community groups to promote the educational mission of the Worldwide Voyage.
“All of us teachers from all over the islands, we’re working together and using the Worldwide Voyage as a way to really gather our kids and teach them how important Hawaiʻi is [and] more importantly how important their place that they’re from or they relate to, how they need to protect it. And a way you can protect your place, first thing you need to know about it,” said Summer Maunakea, a teacher and Hōkūleʻa crew member.
This network of educators recently gathered for their first Oʻahu learning journey.
“We are on the Koʻolauloa side of Oʻahu at Punaluʻu Valley,” said Makahiapo Cashman, the director of Ka Papa Loʻi o Kanewai.
“Everybody that comes to the loʻi will get something different out of it. I didn’t grow up coming to loʻi everyday. And so loʻi for me represents this foundation, connection to my kupuna, connection to Hāloa. But it also guides me into my future,” said Summer.
“I think for these particular teachers, it’s reminding them that with all the other stuff that is in education at the moment, that there’s something bigger, there’s some more important,” said Tara OʻNeill, the coordinator for Aʻo Hawaiʻi.
“We’re working on relationships, we’re building ties, we’re making connections to each other. And we’re see what we do here connects to their class and what they’re trying to teach,” said Makahiapo.
“So I feel that this kind of education is shifting in the right direction. This education of taking care of your ‘āina, growing your own food, doing it in ways that we are using all of the resources around us. It’s good education. I believe in it,” said Summer.
“To have had that experience grounds me in an understanding of where we can go, right. And the kinds of experiences we can create for kids,” said Tara.
As Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia travel across the globe, they will carry the aspirations of these educators with them.