Our internship program has become a vital part of our organization. 10-15 interns spend 10 weeks with us over the course of the year, some stay for the entire year. The hardest part for us is building close relationships with these young passionate individuals and then having to say goodbye when it is time for them to move on with their life endeavors. Amaris spent 2 sessions with us and was a regular volunteer for several years prior. This spring she was accepted to nursing school in New Mexico. We miss her dearly but are so happy for the opportunities that lie ahead. She shares a bit about her experience with us in the following reflection.
April 17th, 2019
Hoʻokuaʻāina may be the best work environment I will ever experience. The voices of my co-worker’s rhyming cultivation with fertilization became as familiar as the feeling of lepo between my toes. The warmth of the Wilhelm ʻohana manifested itself in generosity. Wherever they go it’s a paʻina. From the excitement of community day to rubbish bins of weeds, I loved it all.
In my opinion, one of the most special things about this lo’i is that each person learns they are sacred and that work is good. Sacred because you feel close to your Creator and the people with whom you work make you feel special. Work becomes a privilege, not only because you are under the beautiful shadow of Olomana, but the work performed is a blessing to other people. As embodied beings, working in the dirt and being challenged physically is very satisfying because it affirms a facet of our humanity. Work may not always be fun but the social environment at Hoʻokuaʻāina is one of spurring each other on to become better learners.
I felt honored to work in the loʻi. Being haole I am keenly aware of moments where I am able to listen to, learn from, or participate in Hawaiian culture. Sometimes my co-workers would speak with one another in ʻolelo Hawai’i and for those few minutes it felt like the weight of Hawaiʻi’s painful history with western arrogance was lifted. The loʻi at Kapalai is reordering and restoring ʻāina and kamaʻāina.
As I write, my hard-won calluses on my hands are peeling away due to lack of shoveling. What I have learned in the past six months is that: 1) the art of mahiʻaiʻana (cultivation) is something I can do wherever I go, 2) the vices you allow to grow in your life may steal life away like the weeds steal from the kalo, 3) the triangular relationship between Akua, kanaka, and ʻāina will always be relevant, 4) my story matters, so I will carry myself with dignity, and 5) a legitimate measuring order is “one shovel plus one and a half shakas.”
Written By Amaris Capen