Malama Kumu: DC

May 19, 2016

In from Andrea Bender

We spent today at Marshall High School in Falls Church, VA. Dan Hale ‘81 invited us to speak at two of his anthropology classes. Each class was an hour and a half long which gave us time to do a number of activities. First, we greeted the students with the Punahou Chant and A Honua. Both chants tell where we come from and request permission to come into their school. I have watched students come to Punahou and do the same. I was proud to be a part of the group as we demonstrated our Hawaiian culture.

Cat Fuller, a teacher from ‘Iolani, showed a video of the Hōkūle'a and talked about life on the canoe. Her information comes firsthand since she has travelled on multiple legs of the voyage. The video showed Hōkūle'a making contact with students as it has traveled around the world. Hopefully, seeing students like them will inspire the students from Marshall to take the message of Malama Honua to heart. After the video, students were asked to share what they thought was the purpose of Hōkūle'a’s journey. Putting the goals into their own words will help them remember.

After the short presentation, we broke into groups to learn about the star compass, used for navigation, and lau hala weaving. My role was to teach students to make stars or fish by weaving four pieces of lau hala. It is amazing how students are the same here as they are in Hawai‘I; each one wanted to do their best work. They worked diligently to finish their task but were willing to help the person next to them when needed.

I also got to participate in the star compass lesson. The star compass was developed by Nainoa Thompson ’72. He modeled it after the compass used by Mau Piailug, a master navigator from Micronesia. The star compass helps navigators memorize the stars needed to guide the canoe. Given pieces of the compass, students were asked to work as a group to build the compass. It is interesting to see how the students worked together to get all the houses in the correct locations. Once the compass was constructed, a ball was used to portray a star moving through the sky. The visual aids provided the students with an understanding of what the navigator sees. After visiting the Hōkūle'a this past weekend and seeing the markings on the canoe that help with navigation, the star compass has even more meaning for me.

At the end of the last class, we gathered all the students to learn the hula. All the students in attendance practiced the words to the hula and the motions. Our Punahou students did an excellent job instructing the Marshall students, explaining the meaning of each word and demonstrating the motions that accompanied them.

While I am proud of our work with schools on this trip, I am even more proud that we were able to spread the ideas of Malama Honua to many people we met. Any time we were asked by Uber drivers, stork clerks, waiters/waitresses, or old and new friends, why were we here, we were able to tell them about Malama Honua. Usually, we were carrying information about Hokulea with us so we could share it. We invited anyone with spoke with to visit the Hōkūle'a for a tour. If only half the people we talked to follow up by looking up Hōkūle'a online or going to see the canoe in person, I feel we have made a difference in spreading the goals of Malama Honua.