Pan Pacific Program Perpetuates Hawaiian Studies

Rachel Breitweser ’03

August 23, 2016

For three weeks this summer, students from around the world, including two Punahou students, participated in the Pan Pacific Program at Punahou School's Wo International Center. The enrichment program included two weeks on O‘ahu and one week on Hawai‘i Island. The program, which focuses on English language, Hawaiian cultural studies as well as environmental studies, was lead by Wo International Center’s Jade Sunouchi ’02 and Kealohi Reppun ’99, grade 7 social studies faculty.


While on O‘ahu, students learned traditional Hawaiian activities such playing ‘ukulele, dancing hula, stringing lei and making stamps similar to those used to print on kapa. To introduce the students to Punahou, teaching assistants acted out the School’s story of Ka Punahou. Students also learned a traditional chant, Lei Mānoa, and recited it in front of the Lily Pond.

Students got hands-on experiences in sustainable agriculture at Griffiths Garden and in the taro fields at Waiāhole. Other off-campus visits included He‘eia fishpond and Kualoa Beach Park.

The excursion to Hawai‘i Island provided learning experiences in the varied ecosystems including volcanic terrain, tropical rainforests and the ocean. The trip also gave students a chance to get to know one another better.

Staying at Kīlauea Military Camp, surrounded by the area’s unique beauty, gave students an appreciation of environmental stewardship. “The concept become clear for students as they ‘lived’ in a place like the Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park where aloha ʻāina is both the daily purpose and practice,” shared Reppun.

“This program, as much as it is about Hawaiian studies and English language, is successful because of the unique social context. Students deepened their relationships and made memories that were grounded in a rich sense of place,” explained Reppun. “Hawaiʻi, and all that it is, became special because of the shared experience among students.”


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