Monday, May 21, 2007

Kahiko in Chapel Hill

The biggest attraction to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, to me, is my two adorable granddaughters. Now that I'm a grandmother I can understand why grandparents go so ga-ga over their mo'opuna. Maya just made four and Eliza is 1 year and 4 months, really cute ages for both. Collette and Miles have extremely busy schedules filled to the brim with work and their home, but most importantly, their lives revolve around their two youngsters. Maya's preschool is a big part of their lives since the school encourages and relies on parental participation.

I was honored to be asked to give a little talk, maybe even a demonstration, about Hawai'i for Family Day for Maya and her four-year-old classmates. It was the Grandma from Hawai'i for Show and Tell. Believe me, I asked many questions of Collette about the class and agonized over what I was going to do with this time. Turns out the answer was very natural; the kids were studying Volcanoes. The week before I arrived, a chemist father of a student had even manufactured an "explosion" complete with flowing lava of the papier mache volcanoes the class had made.

A year ago my kumu, Ann, taught me a Pele kahiko about the movement of four different types of lava so how could I ignore that fortuitous fact and not do a hula for the keiki? It was cold on Family Day morning. Cold by Hawai'i standards, about 58 degrees. I wore a long sleeved shirt, a long sleeved silk sweater, long pants, socks and for just a touch of Hawai'i, a lavender pareau draped across one shoulder as a kikepa. It was a little surreal to be chanting an 'oli and to be explaining the movements to the class in a North Carolina classroom. However, once I got started I got used to stopping and explaining, dancing, stopping, etc. I had the class repeat the Hawaiian words to me which they did perfectly. I danced the "Hua 'ina" verse, for example, which means boiling up, bubbling on the surface with quick circular hand motions. Even though she was thousands of miles away I felt a bit of my kumu there, her distinctive voice chanting with me.

I took this assignment very seriously because who knows if or how it would affect each child? Would they want to see Volcano and Hawai'i themselves? Would I be able to convey a bit of precious aloha to each child so that they had a sense of where we are from? I wanted to bring a lei that I'd made, even if it was not made of flowers. I made 10 simple eyelash yarn lei for each of Maya's classmates and gave two more complicated lei to Maya's Teacher Maureen and Maya. I was fortunate that I found exactly the Hawaiian Volcanoes book I'd been looking for at the Honolulu airport before I left, to gift to the school and Maya's class. I gave 5 Hawai'i calendars for the dedicated teachers. They all, individually, thanked me in the playground after.

I was happy that the children experienced something different which is directly related to Maya's legacy.

The book, "Hawai'i, Land of Volcanoes" by Jan Tenbruggencate is available on and local bookstores. The photographer is a UH professor, Douglas Peebles, who taught Art 101 to Jimbo, me and a generation of UH students.
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Anonymous said...

Maya must have been very popular to have such a cool kupunawahine. I hope you're going to teach Maya and Eliza how to cook some of your delicious recipes as they get older! One of my earliest memories of Gram is watching her butter rolls rise in the oven as she made dinner.

Hope your trip is going well!


P.S.--Do you think Uncle Jim's Art 101 assignments might be stored anywhere? I'd love to get a good laugh.

foodiewahine said...

Aloha, Marian,

Maya and Eliza are active assistant bakers to their parents. Collette says they bake from scratch at least once a week. When I visit I always leave the sheaf of recipes for Collette that I bring along with me from which to cook from.

Isn't it great that we share fond foodie memories? Your Gram's rolls are legendary.

Hey! Who says Uncle Jim's assignments are laughable? Maybe they are in a museum somewhere...

Kupuna? Kupuna? Impressive, Marian, and used in the proper context.

Aunty foodiewahine

Anonymous said...

Hi Foodiewahine,

Loved the blog about the two beautiful granddaughters and your trip to visit them...I can just picture Maya and her friends, spelllbound by your hula and chanting...I'm sure they will ALL want to visit Hawaii after all you shared with them...and I'm glad you felt your kumu was there with you while you were dancing!! Maya is undoubtedly the most popular girl at preschool now!!



Anonymous said...

I was very sad to miss your performance at FPS, but having read your blog, I feel almost as if I was there. Maya was very proud of her grandma!



Samantha said...

Wow Mom, that was an amazing article. It made me feel like i was right there. you are soo generous too. and soo thoughtful, that's how every teacher should view their position in regards to the impact they make on people's lives at a young age! miss you! sam

foodiewahine said...

Hi, Sami, Miles and TSB,
It was an amazing gift to be able to spend time with Maya, her school, the parents and the teachers. These are the happy memories I take back with me to Hawai'i. I'm glad for the digital camera from you guys (Sami, Miles, J and C) so I have 300+ photos to enjoy. Thank you, TSB, Miles and Sami for your kind comments!

Yanet said...

hi auntie mem,
i really enjoyed reading about your time in NC and the grandbabies! thanks for sharing all the exciting details with us. i can't wait to see all the photos of the yummy southern meals you ate!