Hōkūleʻa Update | April 28, 2016

Starr JohsnonWritten by Starr Johnson

Today was a particularly busy day engaging with the community of Newport News, Virginia. Kaniela, Mark, Jason, Duane, and myself served on an education and outreach group to visit two schools. We started at Hampton High School, where we visited a senior International Baccalaureate biology class in a school that is predominantly African-American. The class had been studying marine debris and was fully engaged and excited by our visit. Kaniela gave a powerful presentation about his experience finding marine debris in remote areas of Australia during another leg of the Worldwide Voyage as well as a separate trip he took to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. We fielded a bunch of fantastic questions, and sent them off with with a keener sense of our mission to Mālama Honua. One student was particularly excited to hear that we would traveling through her homeland of Panama in the next several months.


We then visited New Horizons Regional Education Centers, which serves students with special needs from six surrounding districts. Some students are bussed in from as far as two hours away. We had a group of 40 middle school kids rotating through four 10-minute stations: creating aloha ʻāina quilt squares, practicing knot tying and line throwing, learning the star compass, and exploring life on the canoe with our voyaging gear. The students were animated, engaged, and hilarious. One kid told Duane, “You’re talking. And I’m tired.” We cracked up all day imagining the integration at his station. Their spirits were truly special, and there were numerous teachers and helpers who said how memorable this day would be for the students. One teacher even said that it was the best engagement she felt the school had ever experienced in her seven years at the school. She explained that unfortunately New Horizons usually gets passed over for educational enrichment that regular public and charter schools get to experience. This really touched us and reminded us of the power of education for all learners.


After a couple hours of rest following the school visits, the entire crew headed to the Mariner’s Museum at Newport News. There we were a part of a four-part lecture series the museum has been conducting. We met with the board members, major donors, and executives in one of the exhibition halls. Then our current captain Mark Ellis and apprentice navigator Jason Patterson partnered to give a fabulous tag-team presentation to a room of over 300 attendees. So to give a lecture with such composed delivery could not have been easy. Our entire crew was very proud of them, and the audience was clearly engaged and interested given the number of people who stayed late to get signatures and ask further questions. It is exciting that this community has taken such an interest in the story of Polynesian wayfinding and the voyagers of the modern day. Given the number of students and adults we touched today, we are expecting a large turnout at our canoe tours on Sunday, May 1 from 9am-6pm at Riverwalk Landing. (That is assuming the thunder and lightning show that we are seeing this evening, moves out of the Chesapeake and Yorktown area.) Aloha and mahalo for following!

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