This six-week program on the island of Hawai’i is designed for students who want to learn about contemporary Hawaiian life, Hawaiian history, and Hawaiian cultural, political, and environmental issues by working and visiting with people of Hawaiian descent on farms, in forests, at the coast, and on the ocean, as well as by academic means.
We study archeological and historical evidence for the development of Hawaiian society, the most complex in Oceania at the time of European contact. We study Hawaiian social transformations from about 300 AD to the present. We learn about the flourishing contemporary Cultural Renaissance Movement from activists who are revitalizing taro farming, ocean voyaging, hula, Hawaiian language, genealogy, and ‘awa (kava) ceremony. Much of our learning takes place while we work with Hawaiians on projects of cultural significance. We help restore historic taro irrigation and pondfield systems in an extraordinary valley, once the royal residence. At Hawaii Volcanoes National Park we help eradicate invasive plants in the forest, dayhike in volcanic landscapes, and learn about Pele (a fire woman) and the ethnobotany of hula from hula teachers. On the Kona Coast we study navigation, astronomy, chants, sailing, and Hawaiian values with traditional ocean skills instructors. Weather permitting, we sail the Makali’i—a double-hulled, long-distance “voyaging canoe”—along the coast. (Naturally our sailing plans are contingent upon weather and equipment. Unfortunately, inclement weather and support-boat engine problems precluded sailing in 2005 and 2006.) Our hands-on experiences are complemented by readings, lectures, discussions, and student fieldwork presentations.
Note: Our oceancraft instructors require that we possess minimum swimming skills for safe sailing. To demonstrate competence, we swim several laps as a group in the ocean, adjacent to the dock.
Photos from the 2005 Hawaii program can be viewed on flickr.com
These websites are useful:
hawaiidigitallibrary.org Full-text books
www.hawaii-nation.org Hawaiian sovereignty.
www.canoeplants.com, Ethnobotany. The page on ‘awa (kava) has links.
www.kavaforum.org, Ethnobotany of the inebriating beverage ‘awa.
www.leahi.kcc.hawaii.edu/org/pvs Traditional long-distance sailing.
www.ksdl.ksbe.edu/kulaiwi/index “Exploring Hawaiian language through Hawaiian mele (songs).” Thirty streaming video lessons in Hawaiian language by Kamehameha Schools.
www.bishopmuseum.org Publications and resources on Hawaiian history and culture.
www.hawaiianlinks.com Links for music, hula, history, sovereignty, healing.
Student comments (anonymous) from Hawaii program evaluation forms:
“This trip was awesome – life changing.”
“Bret did a good job conducting this course over the past six weeks. Competence in lecture, presentations, and professionalism was demonstrated throughout the program. I liked the respect given to all participants and the well-rounded knowledge brought to the table from his past experiences in life.”
What did you like about the instructor:
“Ability to go with the flow, calmness, balance, adaptability.”
What did you like most:
“The way he set up the trip, how we really were working with Hawaiians, the organization of what we did, the connections we all built, and the perspective we gained on the culture.”
“Appreciated his wisdom, by that I mean his ability to know that the is forever a student of life. He is flexible and charming as a person. “
“Bret was very open and willing to share about his experiences. Definitely very approachable and open. Being able to talk to him outside academia was crucial to my positive experience.”
“Bret is really easy to get along with and is respectful of the people we interacted with. I felt safe and comfortable with his guidance. He is very intelligent and has a good sense of humor. I really had fun and learned so much with Bret’s instruction.