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The Westcoast Connection Blog

Life Changing Experiences

Hula and Luaus! – Hawaii & Alaska Community Service

Our second day at the Habitat for Humanity in Kauai kicked off with Cael, Evy, Eric, Jess, and trip leader Jon cleaning out some of the irrigation gutters on the site. Matt, Jordan, Alex, Evan and Noah continued to sort building materials and organize their shelves while Maddie, Lourdes, Ashley, and Stevie organized china shelves and sorted through clothes. Emily and Dori worked in the front of the store printing out various signs. Our day at the Habitat for Humanity restore was another success! Being able to quantify and witness our productivity unfold before our eyes has and continues to be a rewarding experience for all of us! That same evening our group enjoyed a classic game of mini putt played in one of Kauai’s botanical gardens! As always, the girls broke out into their karaoke signing, but this in no way distracted the boys who were intensely competitive on the greens!

The following day we were off to our long anticipated paddle-boarding excursion. While Eric persevered and showed his determination by finding his balance on the board, Jess, Evan, and Dori showed their quick grasp of the activity. Once we all found our footing on the boards, we paddled down a river surrounded by lush vegetation and mountains. The views were beautiful, to those who weren’t distracted by their fellow trip members having a blast on their paddle boards! After lunch we headed to Hanalei Bay beach where we all enjoyed a refreshing dip in the ocean. We also had the privilege to be entertained by a Canoeing competition taking place further out in the ocean. Upon our arrival at the hotel after the beach, we were greeted by Daphney our Hula instructor, a down-to-earth and lively woman who emanated her passion for Hula dancing through her utter excitement of teaching our. Evan, Noah, and Stevie were particularly enthused about the dance as they strutted their moves with the group. It was great to see every trip member participate in the dancing, an otherwise potentially embarrassing activity lest our trip members had not become so comfortable amongst themselves! Daphney also took the time to delve into the history and cultural implications of ‘Kahiko’, an ancient form of the Hula dance that we were learning. Who would have known that it was the men who played a pivotal role in ancient Hula dancing? Indeed, it was the male warriors who would use this dance to prepare for battle and communicate, their feet patters and drum beats resonating for miles to neighboring tribes.
Hawaii & Alaska Community Service
In addition to Daphney’s explanation of Kahiko, our historical and cultural understanding of Hawaii continued on monday with the Nature Jay. Jay, accompanied by his colleague Ray, took our group on a hike through the rainforest up in the mountains in Maui. Ray placed great focus and importance on the history and culture of Hawaii. How the islands were formed, who were its first settlers, how some of the wildlife and vegetation made their way onto the islands were all fascinating topics that Ray and Jay touched on during our eco tour. On our trek through the rainforest, Ray had asked us to pick up a ‘Kukui’ nut off the forest floor, the fruit of Hawaii’s official state tree, the Kukui. Ray explained that this nut would be a way to remeniss on our travels in Hawaii as the nut would act as a sort of ‘flash drive’ and contain all of our individual memories. We concluded our ecotour in the mountains by heading down to the beach where Ray noted the cyclicality and connectedness of the ocean and the mountains. Our evening ended with the Luau. Our group enjoyed a feast while being entertained by local Hula dancers, fire jugglers, drummers, and cultural story tellings. When asked to volunteer for a communal Hula dance on stage, Evan, Maddie, Noah, Emily, Stevie, and Dori were quick to rise to their feet and show off their moves in front of the crowd! Towards the end of the night, the local Hula dancers walked into the crowd to pull people on stage and share a one-on-one hula dance off. Before we knew it, Eric was pulled from our table to dance with a lovely Hula lady on stage! Our group cheered him on as he danced alongside the Hula girls! What a night!

We cannot believe that there are only four days left to our awesome trip. From Alaska, to Seattle, to Vancouver, and now Hawaii, we have travelled thousands of miles together and shared so many unique and learning experiences. All we can do for the rest of the trip is keep enjoying every moment as we have since day one. Alaska/Hawaii, you continue to impress us and make us proud! Keep up the amazing work. Snohana!

The Westcoast Blogger