As Hōkūleʻa continues to ply the world’s oceans and navigable waterways, Waʻa Talks continue to celebrate the learning that the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage has catalyzed with discussions of issues centered around the message of mālama honua for K-12 teachers and students, with ways to get involved inside and outside the classroom. The first Wa'a Talk of the 2015-16 school year was held at Farrington High School last month, with two more to be held later this year (click here to register).
Kaʻiluani Odom, dietitian of Kōkua Kalihi Valley/Roots Cafe addressed food sustainability from her years of experience as an ʻaipono proponent with Kōkua Kalihi Valley and Hoʻoulu ʻĀina. “Hawaiʻi is dependent on food imports — 90 percent of food today comes from elsewhere. Food is land, air, stories and community” says Odom.
Kahi Pacarro of Sustainable Coastlines Hawaiʻi illustrated the crisis of plastics and the ocean. “Long after we are gone, the plastics we use today will still exist to pollute our environment,” he said.
Cory Yap, UH biologist, spoke about the threatened ecosystems of Hawaiian streams with special emphasis on Honolulu’s urban core, providing information from his lab work with Kaimuki High students. Miki Tomita of PVS provided voyage updates and gave all participants their own Google Cardboard viewers for classroom and project use.
For the first time, a group of HIDOE Honolulu Complex kūpuna participated in a Waʻa Talks and brought a new dynamic to the event. Mary Keala, kūpuna coordinator from Kauluwela Elementary said, “It was beyond my expectations and I feel that other kūpuna/makua would find it equally worthwhile, if not more, for their own enlightenment and knowledge in creating grade appropriate lessons.” Megan Kawatachi of ʻIolani School said, “I always leave a Wa'a Talks having learned something and met someone new, and with a deeper respect for our teachers in the classroom."
As a hands-on follow up activity to Farrington’s Waʻa Talks, Kaʻiulani Odom invited participants to Ho’oulu ‘Āina in Kalihi Valley on the following Wednesday to experience the restorative power of nature and working together. According to Odom, “we give to the land and the land gives to us.” All participants experienced the reverence for all life forms in this verdant Kalihi locale. After the traditional “aloha circle” of unity upon arrival, the experiential learning began with harvesting vegetables and herbs grown on site. Participants then proceeded to the Roots Cafe on North School Street to prepare the food for preserving which included peeling and chopping vegetables and brewing up vinegar-based brines as a pickling medium.
ʻIliahi Doo of Farrington High School described the food prep activity as a project-based activity that allows students to “learn as you teach and appreciation the whole person.” Diane Tom-Ogata, also of Farrington noted, “while there are numerous STEM applications in every human activity … the entirety of this activity creates a sense of valuing each other.”
The activity ended with a reflection sharing, and participants each took home several jars of pickled fruits and vegetables that they made and pickling recipes.