Here in Hawaii, we are acutely aware of our limited resources. As an island state, most everything of what we consume is imported. Of those rich resources that we do have- fish and other sea life, fresh water, rich volcanic soil, and a year- round growing season- we work hard to conserve and protect them.
Last month, representatives from the University of Hawaii and Pacific Resources for Education and Learning (PREL) came to Na’alehu Elementary School to address issues of conserving our robust shore environment. They spent the morning working with our English Language Learners. Many of these students’ families come from the Marshal Islands and other Micronesian countries.
For the first part of the workshop, students were able to learn the Hawaiian names of the ocean creatures that many of them already eat at home. “We have that!” was commonly heard. PREL were able to tap into issues of conservation and treating our shoreline “just like our garden here at school. We have to tend to it.” By connecting students to the familiar sea life and emphasizing the importance of tending to these beautiful resources, students foster a sense of responsibility and care for our island environment. Each student was gifted a beautiful book from PREL about pacific island environments to take home and read with their families. The books help to compare their familiar Micronesian island environments with that of our Hawaii Island, helping to foster a sense of stewardship for both.
Next, we celebrated! Students were served yummy local pan-fried breadfruit and taro, important staples to both Micronesians and Hawaiians. To see such joy and celebration for the bounty of what our island offers to us was truly inspiring. It is this sense of joy and connection to our island home that is so important to foster in these young future stewards of our ‘aina (land).
By Na‘alehu Elementary School FoodCorps Service Member Carly Wyman