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You are here: /main/research/NWHI ED 2005/journals/Sabra Kauka

By Sabra Kauka, Friday, August 12, 2005

Banditos at 2 O'clock
We spot a flock of Newell's Shearwaters circling above the ocean between Kaua`i and O`ahu. Kaua`i is in site. O`ahu is barely visible. A school of large fish, perhaps mahimahi, flash in the waning light. The Shearwaters are the Blue Angels of seabirds. They dive with amazing speed and accuracy, pulling up just as their wing tips skim the ocean. What a way to find your supper!

I think of my students, last year's third graders at Island School, who studied the Shearwater colony at Ninini Point on Kaua`i. It's only a 15 minute drive from campus. Aaron Hebshi, a National Science Foundation GK-12 Fellow, is our guiding scientist on this project to make science real, to relate it to our island home, to make it hands-on, and to make it memorable. This school year we are very lucky to be working with Aaron again as last year's third grade students coach this year's class. I am so thankful for Aaron's commitment and the support of Lynda Liesse, the regular 3rd grade classroom teacher.

Wailua – A Spiritual Journey
For me as a native Hawaiian and cultural practitioner this journey to the Kupuna Islands is a journey of the soul. I acknowledge all those who traveled this path before me. I acknowledge Akua (creator). I acknowledge the kupuna (ancestors). I acknowledge the aumakua (guardians). Tomorrow morning I will pay respect to Nihoa with the kinolau (plant form) of Kane – kalo, Kanaloa – maia (banana), Ku – coconut, and Lono – sweet potato.

As we leave Honolulu Harbor two jets take off from the reef runway and shoot straight up. We have beautiful weather and gentle seas. A Shearwater escorts us to sea. We see the green flash this evening as the sun sets into the sea. The signs are favorable.

Yes, we are educators and we are here to create curriculum about this very special place for our students. How can I make it real for them when I cannot bring them here? A young scientist, Pete Oboyski, from UC-Berkley reminds me that we learn about Africa and we appreciate the wildlife there but not all of us have been there. We don't have to go there to appreciate the place, and I suppose it is the same for the Kupuna Islands.

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