This quarter we said goodbye to a handful of participants as they completed their time in our weekly mentoring program and have now returned home to their families. It is always sad to see them go but the ultimate goal is for them to transition out of the program, reintegrate with their families, and practice living life equipped with some of the skills they have gained over the course of their time with us. Our next wave of participants was welcomed early this summer and is transitioning into the program nicely. With the shifting of the tide, we returned to our grounding lesson, Nani Ke Kalo (Beautiful the Taro). Rooted in the overall value of respect, the theme of Nani Ke Kalo is used as a guiding principle of all interactions done in and around the lo’i. Respect starts from within. Loving and caring for oneself is needed in order to be able to care for anything else. It’s always nice to regroup and remind ourselves how we should carry ourselves not only around kalo, but in our everyday interactions. Uncle Dean’s favorite analogy is, “You know when you’re driving down the road and someone cuts you off. You get mad and want to throw them the extra special shaka sign (insert fun Uncle Dean facial expression). Instead just think to yourself, “Nani Ke Kalo” and take a breath.”
When asked, “How do you practice Nani Ke Kalo towards yourself”, we heard answers such as, “I take a shower every day” or “I brush my teeth.” As time goes on, awareness and respect towards themselves, peers, mentors, and the places they encounter increases. The answers change to reflect having more respect for the land and striving to be the best they can be. These are the milestones we look for and celebrate.
At the end of last quarter, as a celebration of their hard work, they had the opportunity to ku’i kalo. For many of them, this was their first experience pounding poi and for some even their first time tasting paʻi ʻai. One of the boys shared, “I never knew I liked poi until I came here.” – another landmark and cause to celebrate for us to watch the kids develop a taste for traditional and nutritious staple foods that they grew themselves.
We ended the quarter clearing the last of the hau in the very back of the property to build out our second to the last patch. The main project the new participants will be working on this next quarter is building out this new patch that will be named in their honor upon completion. We want all participants to know that they are forever connected to this place and have great value in our ʻohana.
We kicked off our 10-Week Summer Internship program in June with 6 awesome young adults who all share a desire to learn more about the Hawaiian culture, the production of kalo, gain job skills they can take into future careers, and connect to the land and community. We also welcomed the first 4 participants of the new Hoʻokuaʻāina Apprenticeship, a collaboration with Windward Community College to offer a unique hands-on leadership training program for students interested in ʻāina based work. They will work with us weekly for the next two years as they pursue a specialized certificate in Ahupuaʻa Sustainability and a 2-year degree of their choice. In just the last few weeks, they’ve interacted with our community groups, participated in various farm activities ranging from harvesting, to weeding, and the production of poi. It’s safe to say our summer has been productive and fun. It is always hard for us as we near the completion of the summer session. Deep relationships have grown and it will be hard for us to say goodbye to the 6 finishing the program. But they all know they always have a place to return and to call home at Kapalai.