Hōkūleʻa Update | May 4, 2016

Starr JohsnonWritten by Starr Johnson

Aloha! Yesterday we had a busy day doing outreach to diverse groups. Our morning starting in a small Episcopal Church meeting hall with the Rotary Club briefly sharing with the service organization about our voyage. They were keenly interested in both Hōkūleʻa and what we have learned during the past two years of the Malama Honua voyage. Although our presentation and Q&A was brief they appreciated our visit and even took a photo to put in their newsletter. 

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We then whipped across a few towns into Norfolk, Virginia to do outreach at Campostella Elementary, a public elementary school. We were excited because it was with a community we had not yet worked with, and we did not just meet with one class of second graders, but three, all at once! For those who have experience working with lower elementary aged students, you can imagine that having 60 second graders in a small cafeteria, set up for lunchtime (not much open space was a bit of a challenge) but still a great time!

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We shared our oli kahea, showed them our update video from the stops of 2015, which we have found to be particularly engaging for younger students because it shows a lot of youth and indigenous peoples from around the world dancing. It was interesting to observe the young students watch the film because they would giggle with all the cultural clips of which they were unfamiliar (hula, kapa haka, Aboriginal and Balinese dancing). For some it seemed as if they had never heard of Hawaii, so it was especially exciting for us to teach them what “aloha”, “mahalo,” and “mālama ʻāina” meant.

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After the short film, we broke them up into groups to explore working with lines (ropes), canoe gear, and the star compass. Moani even taught them all the names and motions to memorize the houses of the Hawaiian star compass. They were such an engaged, spirited and active bunch of kids; their enthusiasm was infectious. They all wanted to do every station first, over and over again. When they left they were heading out the door yelling “aloha!” 

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When we arrived back in Yorktown we made both ourselves and Hōkūleʻa look tidy because we had a VIP canoe tour with the president and provost of the College of William and Mary. I was a bit nervous knowing that the president of such a fine university and his wife would be asking us questions, but they were all really nice, and in the end, not so intimidating. 

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Following the tour, while shoving  pizza down in the car, we rushed off to get to a lecture we had to give, hosted by Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences (William and Mary). The venue was well attended by a mix of veteran and college-age learners. Three of our crew members presented different aspects of Polynesian Voyaging and this voyage. Moani, Kaniela, and Jason did an fantastic job sharing about the history of Hōkūleʻa, canoe life, and celestial navigation.  They each did an incredible job engaging the audience through their humor, knowledge, and sincerity. It has been really awesome watching all our crew members get stronger and more comfortable presenting both formally and informally.

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Thankfully, today was not nearly as busy as yesterday, but just as important, because we took time to mālama and aloha our māmā Hōkūle’a. Emptying every berth, we scrubbed her til she gleamed! Cleaning is important on any ocean-going vessel, but feels especially intimate when cleaning and caring for Hōkū. The entire crew felt so proud of our clean wa’a! So much so we sent a message to our dear Captain Bruce so he would know we were keeping up his tidy ways and giving Hōkūleʻa the love she deserves. Leg 20 flies in over the next couple days and they will be happy to take over such a beauty!

Mahalo for following!
-Starr


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