Crew Profile: Jenna Ishii
By ʻOiwi TV
I didn’t really know about Hawaiʻi until I ended up moving…So I found Okinawa, which happened to be the place where Hōkūle’a arrived as her first stop in 2007, and that’s how I started getting involved.
“My name is Jenna Ishii, and I grew up here in Hawaiʻi. I didn’t know anything else besides Hawai’i all my life until I went away. I kind of lived a very sheltered life, went to a good school and got a good education, but I think I didn’t really know about Hawaiʻi until I ended up moving. I was kind of aimless, so I decided, well I’m just going to travel the world. So I found Okinawa, which happened to be the place where Hōkūle’a arrived as her first stop in 2007, and that’s how I started getting involved,” said Jenna Ishii, an apprentice navigator on Hōkūleʻa.
“It was just so cool because you see Nainoa, and you see all these heroes that you learn about all your life and they’re sailing in and they were just he most beautiful sight I’d ever seen. It really kind of made me think about where I’m from. That was inside of me, something was missing. And that’s when I decided, I have to go home and learn what’s going on in Hawaiʻi because I definitely had no idea,” said Jenna.
Her return to Hawaiʻi gave her the opportunity of a lifetime and she is now a staff member at Polynesian Voyaging Society and an apprentice navigator on the leg to Tahiti.
“I never wanted to ever ask to sail because it’s such a sacred thing. I was just going to volunteer as long as I could because it was so intriguing. After getting to know Nainoa for a couple years, we started working closer together because I was starting to work for PVS [Polynesian Voyaging Society], and one of the nights we were talking and he said, ʻAre you interested in navigation?,ʻ” said Jenna
Jenna is now both a staff member of the Polynesian Voyaging Society and an apprentice navigator sailing to Tahiti. Although these combined positions are heavy in labor, Jenna continues to share and encourage others to take part in this epic voyage.
“She has such a passion for every aspect of this voyage, it really shows in the quality of her work. And she’s always very respectful of everyone and always trying to include as many people as what to be involved in the process,” said Lehua Kamalu, a fellow apprentice navigator.
“Teachers and community members can plug into what’s happening when we start sailing. You can track the voyage. We are going to have 6 science experiments happening. There are going to be curriculum developed from our teachers statewide. So there’s going to be a lot of ways to plug into the voyage,” said Jenna.