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 amazon.com 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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