Blog | Linda Furuto: Navigating Our Educational Visions

Linda_FurutoThis post was written by Linda Furuto.

Each of us was born for this generation and time, to step up, imagine, innovate, and hold to our visions in all kinds of weather.

As I reflect on the two voyages I’ve been blessed and humbled to be a part of over the past three months from Hawai‘i-Rangiroa-Tahiti and American Samoa-Samoa-Swain’s, I am deeply moved by educational messages that are embedded in the worldwide voyage.

The story of Hōkūle‘a is about teachers who have use education as a catalyst for positive change. Great teachers begin with Mau Piailug, who said yes to a voyage significantly longer than he had ever been on, a crew he had never met, a voyaging canoe many times bigger than his own sailing under a sky with stars he had never seen.

Then Eddie Aikau taught us about courage in the face of fear.  He heroically gave his life to save his fellow crew members on the fateful 1978 voyage when Hōkūle‘a capsized—“No greater love hath a man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”

Pinky Thompson imparted the wisdom of leadership, and reminded us that 90% of the voyage is in the planning—”If If we don’t have a plan, we don’t sail; if we don’t sail, we don’t achieve.”

Colonel Lacy Veach bridged ancient knowledge with modern technological connections.  He was Hawai‘i’s second astronaut in space, and said, “You don’t know how beautiful Island Earth is until you see it from space.  Hawai‘i is a laboratory for living well on islands.”

There’s not enough time to highlight all our teachers and their sacrifices, including the legacy of the founders of PVS—Herb Kawainui Kane, Ben Finney, and Tommy Holmes.  We owe every accomplishment to great teachers, great leaders, and great visionaries who not only inspired, but held us accountable to our visions.

Linda and Ryan having fun on the sweep.

Linda and Ryan having fun on the sweep.

In Fall 2013, key educational leaders in Hawai‘i and the Pacific signed the “Promise to Children” that Hōkūle‘a is carrying around the world.  One of my favorite parts is, “We will transform our schools, empower youthful voices, and accept the responsibility of Mālama Honua.  We believe that by inspiring children to explore, discover, and learn about Island Earth, they will navigate the future of humanity toward vitality, renewal, and compassion.”

I am profoundly grateful to have had opportunities to witness and experience this first-hand.  Over the past three months, we have received proclamations to protect Island Earth from French Polynesia President Gaston Flosse, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, and the High Chief of Samoa Tuiatua Tupua Tamasese Efi. The most prominent leaders of nations and the world know in their hearts the urgency of the mission and the truthfulness of the message for the sake of our children and generations to come.

As education specialist and apprentice navigator, I have learned three important lessons.  First, each of us was born for this generation and time, to step up, imagine, innovate, and hold to our visions in all kinds of weather.

Through experiences on land and sea, I have been continuously reminded that Hōkūle‘a and Hikianalia are not just canoes. They are part of an epic history and educational vehicles that allows us to thread past, present, and future generations.  These wa‘a represent wisdom, vision, strength, compassion, and courage, and are fundamentally grounded in values-based education. I used to fear the storm, but now I embrace it because I know it is an opportunity to reach within and find the values we are willing to sail for.

Second, in preparing for the worldwide voyage, my captains Bob Perkins, Nainoa Thompson, and Kālepa Baybayan provided tremendous guidance in cultural, medical, and physical training to keep us safe and healthy.  As part of my education and apprentice navigator training, they repeatedly asked questions like, “Linda, what do you think is the purpose of education?” “When do you think a child starts learning?” “Where do you see yourself in 40 years?”  No pressure.

We are each on a voyage filled with challenges and successes.  Learning is about taking on challenges, no matter what the outcomes may be. When we accept the challenges, we open ourselves to new insight, knowledge, and opportunities.  Following each squall, there is a stillness and peace found in majestic sunrises and sunsets, a laboratory of colors in the rainbows, and a planetarium of celestial bodies in the heavens.

While we may be small in the grand universe, each of us has a unique and critical role to play, and these should be embraced.  In 40 years, I’m so excited to be a kupuna!  I am going to be right here, standing beside the next generation, helping to empower their dreams, and supporting educational collaborations locally and globally just as I have experienced with children at Tahuri a Tapuni in Rangiroa, Global Educational Village in Pape’ete, and Falemata’aga Museum of Samoa.

Third, as we think about our visions, one of the most important lessons I have learned from the worldwide voyage is about reciprocity.  I hope we always remember where we came from, and give back to the community, the people, and the land.  We would not be here without these.   We stand on the shoulders of giants, and we will be the shoulders for generations to come.  Whether a child grows up in Tahiti, Samoa, or Hawai’i, I know that each individual voice is not only important, but absolutely critical as we Mālama Honua collectively.

May we be stewards of the land, servant leaders, and caretakers of our planet.

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