It has been a busy few days for the group! On Friday, we were fortunate to receive a lecture from Dr. Ku Kahakalau, a renowned expert on indigenous education. She gave us a lesson on the traditional Hawaiian education system and the importance of place-based learning for their youth. She also told us about the history of the Hawaiian education system and how this has changed due to American influence. She heavily stressed the importance of keeping the Hawaiian culture alive and present in schools today and teaching today's youth the lost language of Hawaiian. In the afternoon, the group went to a beautiful park and we presented our findings from our archive research on the Hilo Boarding School. Through these presentations, it was evident that Western culture and the Christian missionaries had a large influence on the curriculum taught at this school.
Yesterday we participated in a service project with a community-based nonprofit organization called Hui Malama i ke Ala Ulili. The leaders of the project spent time telling us stories about the importance of genealogies and land in Hawaii. They shared a particular story of a chief Umi who serves as a significant figure for their teachings on land and ancestral history. We spent time removing a tall grass species, moving logs, and planting cuttings, to help the organization in their efforts to restore the land. Following our service work, we were able to stop at a local restaurant, Tex's, where we all were able to try malasadas, which are essentially deep fried dough balls (a signature treat). On our way back to the hostel we stopped at the Waipi'o Valley lookout, which served as a significant location for the story of chief Umi.
Today we were given a free day to explore the town of Hilo. Many of us chose to spend our time at Richardson Beach Park, enjoying the black sandy beach and snorkeling in the ocean. We were able to see several large turtles in a tide pool. Tonight we are having a group dinner at a local pancake house and preparing to depart the Big Island in the morning. We will be flying to Honolulu tomorrow to continue our learning on the education practices present in Hawaii!