Throwback Thursday: Thanksgiving in Maui, Hawaii

My Thanksgiving in Maui began with a shopping trip that filled my host family’s truck to the very rim. There was just enough room to fit my three British friends and myself into the back to sit on top of all the food. Our host sat in the front with her mother, who drove down the highway so quickly that my hair whipped loudly around my ears and my voice would catch in my throat when I tried to speak. The air was filled with the smell of the salty ocean that ran parallel to the highway. We whizzed past countless palm trees, leaving the enormous green mountain range behind us…

My Thanksgiving in Maui began with a shopping trip that filled my host family’s truck to the very rim. There was just enough room to fit my three British friends and myself into the back to sit on top of all the food. Our host sat in the front with her mother, who drove down the highway so quickly that my hair whipped loudly around my ears and my voice would catch in my throat when I tried to speak. The air was filled with the smell of the salty ocean that ran parallel to the highway. We whizzed past countless palm trees, leaving the enormous green mountain range behind us.

The highway gradually narrowed until we found ourselves on a smaller road that passed in and out of the rainforest. We had been warned ahead of time about the winding Road to Hana and the 600 turns that would take us several hours to stomach. The road was bumpy and breathtaking and we stared down at the island in awe as the car teetered on the very edge of the road. We passed one-lane wooden and rocky bridges set over waterfalls and pools of clear-blue water. The trees around us teemed with singing birds and buzzing insects. The shades of the plants around us encompassed every color one could imagine. However, none were as fascinating as the rainbow tree, whose brown bark peeled to reveal red, blue and yellow. We didn’t make the already dangerous road any safer by jumping around the open trunk excitedly and leaning over the edge to take pictures like typical exchange students.

Our car raced the setting sun but didn’t reach our destination until the sky was black and the stars burned bright.

We got off the truck on wobbly legs and stepped into the darkness. Our Hawaiian friend warned us that we would be camping out on her family’s land, nothing fancy. As her mother turned on all the car lights to help us unpack, we saw a spacious tent near a typical Hawaiian hale – an open-walled wooden building with benches and kitchen equipment inside it. When the car engine turned off and the wind was no longer ringing in our ears, we heard the sound of waves. Excited we ran several meters past our tent to discover that our friends’ backyard was right on the ocean and we’d be spending the next three nights falling asleep to the sound of waves hitting the rocky beach.

We woke up the next day to our friend’s family members arriving in trucks full of food and setting up the steaming pots of meat, potatoes, vegetables and desserts in the kitchen of our hale. We met our friend’s mother, sister, brothers, aunts and uncles. We sat around eating and laughing, being thankful for this wonderful experience. The following day we were taken to a sunny beach and went to see a mighty waterfall. The climax of the day was going to a cliff that looked over the ocean where Hawaiians of all shapes and ages threw themselves into the air and dove into the sparkling water. I will never forget the feeling I had standing on that edge looking down several meters and letting go of all my fear to take that leap of faith.

Originally published in Youth Time Print.

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Aloha, Man! Some Words About the State Ideology of Happiness

Youth today is raised in a society that teaches us to study hard so that we can find a good job and work hard so that we can live well. Most people go through this stressful cycle day by day – but not everyone agrees that this is what life should be like.

http://www.youth-time.eu/latest-articles/aloha-man-or-some-words-about-the-state-ideology-of-happiness

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Home in Hilo – Hawaii Travel

I didn’t know much about Hilo before coming here, but it didn’t take long to fall in love with it. The culture shock began on campus, where strangers said hello to me left and right and a friendly cleaning lady asked me to call her “Aunty” and it didn’t end there.

I didn’t know much about Hilo before coming here, but it didn’t take long to fall in love with it. The culture shock began on campus, where strangers said hello to me left and right and a friendly cleaning lady asked me to call her “Aunty.”

Five weeks later the various aspects of the laidback nature of the locals still never cease to surprise. As an exchange student for one semester, the thought of leaving in 13 weeks saddens me greatly: I can no longer imagine falling asleep without the soothing acapella of coqui frogs: or looking up at the sky back home where I’ve never seen a single shooting star; or seeing rainbows after a long warm rainfall.

What I love the most about UH Hilo are all the chances we get to explore Hawaii and Hawaiian culture on the weekends. The Outdoor EdVenture Trips like Paddle Boarding or going to Hapuna Beach are always something to look forward to during the week and they are never a letdown.

One of my favorite trips so far was a volunteering trip to the Kohala Mountains where we helped rid the rainforest of non-native ginger plants – we saw a beautiful view from the high mountain; we had a bumpy ride in a four-wheel drive through a herd of cows; we saw parts of the rainforest that not every local gets to seel and we helped native Hawaiian rainforest species by sickling away overgrown ginger plants which was oddly satisfying and relaxing.

I know that my time here will be amazing and I will go on many more trips, Hawaii can make even the most dormant of people embrace the spirit of carpe diem.

This was originally published: http://uhh.abroadoffice.net/res/saoffice_static_pages/3056/s-October%202012.pdf

This post was updated on June 14th, 2018: the text, as well as title and headline, may have been edited, proofread and optimized for search engines. The featured image may have been changed due to copyright or quality issues.
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Experiencing UH Hilo – Hawaii Travel

Being Ukrainian and growing up in the Czech Republic, I came to Hawaii with my head full of expectations and uneducated stereotypes. My home university, Anglo American, happened to have an exchange program in University of Hawai’I at Hilo.

I came to Hawaii to study at UH Hilo on a university exchange in 2012. Living in Hawaii for four months was an incomparable experience that is hard to put into words. But I’ve been trying to describe it since the day I set foot on the Big Island.

Being Ukrainian and growing up in the Czech Republic, I came to Hawaii with my head full of expectations and uneducated stereotypes. My home university, Anglo American, happened to have an exchange program at the University of Hawai’I at Hilo, and since coming to Hawaii has always been a dream of mine, I jumped at the opportunity to come here. I thought I would spend four months sitting on a white sand beach under a constantly blazing sun surrounded by hula dancers. And, that I’d have leis thrown over my head wherever I went by ukulele-playing locals.

Some of this did actually happen: August was really sunny, I saw a graceful hula dance at the talent show during orientation week, I bought a cheap lei in a souvenir store, and I do hear students strumming a ukulele on campus every once in a while. But, Hawaii turned out to be so much more.

Instead of white sand beaches, Hilo has many beautifully unique volcanic beaches to offer like Honoli’i and Richardson. Honoli’i has a river flowing into the ocean creating a calm area to swim in while the waves in the ocean offer a great surfing environment, and the small beach is surrounded by cliffs and palm trees. Richardson beach is completely different with lots of different enclosed areas to swim in and also lots of areas to just sit around and have picnics. It is even known as a place to spot turtles. The two beaches also showed me a lot about Hawaiian culture.

At both beaches I saw the strong bond between the Hawaiians and their natural surroundings; everyone was careful to clean up after themselves after eating and picked up every bit of litter that they dropped. There was also a great respect for the turtles, which are not to be touched, and the locals watched my friends and me carefully as we approached the turtles to photograph them, and would have probably jumped to their defense if we got too close or disturbed them

There was also a strong sense of family and community at the beaches as big families gather together and set up tents to have picnics and chill. Also, everyone would gather together and cheer whenever a child caught their first wave surfing. It was amazing to watch and the friendly locals would always make me feel included by randomly saying hello and interacting with me.

I also discovered that Hilo is far from being constantly sunny, but I have never seen a more mesmerizing rainfall. The rain here is warm and you can see it bringing life to the whole island as all sorts of critters crawl out from hiding and the plants just seem to dance as the drops hit their leaves. The rain here never seems to bring anyone’s moods down.

On Tuesday and Thursday at six P.M., the hula class at the Student Life Center continues no matter the weather, with friendly upbeat instructors for both beginners and the advanced classes. After seeing a hula dancer perform at the talent show during orientation week there were quite a few people wanting to learn this unique form of dancing.

All in all, Hawaii turned out to have much more to offer than I ever imagined possible, and UH Hilo is a big part of it. Being given weekly opportunities to travel around the Big Island and experience new activities is just one of the perks of the university. There is something here for everyone to participate in, from trying out your public speaking skills on the school radio station to volunteering to help with the beehive to pretty much any club, sport and activity that you can think of.

As an exchange student for one semester, I am truly amazed by UH Hilo. I will have many ideas to take back and suggest to Anglo American, my home university, to make it at least half as good a university as this one.

Originally published here: https://issuu.com/kekalahea/docs/issue4fall2012

This post was updated on June 14th, 2018: the text, as well as title and headline, may have been edited, proofread and optimized for search engines. The featured image may have been changed due to copyright or quality issues.
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UHH Students Help Watershed Project

The Kohala Watershed Partnership is dedicated to helping rid of non-native species and helping those that are native strive. Every month volunteers go to the mountain to do a variety of tasks from planting trees to sterilizing those that shouldn’t be there.

UHH Students Help Watershed Project was originally published at 12:05 on October 10th 2012 in the Hawaii Tribune-Herald. It has since been removed from the website but below is the original article.

The Kohala Watershed Partnership is dedicated to helping rid of non-native species and helping those that are native strive. Every month volunteers go to the mountain to do a variety of tasks from planting trees to sterilizing those that shouldn’t be there.

Earlier this month, a group of the University of Hawaii at Hilo student volunteers went to the mountain with the Kohala Watershed staff and spent a few hours clearing up ginger plants that were suffocating other native species.

The work was not only rewarding but gave the students a chance to see part of Hawaii that not everyone gets to see.

The Kohala Watershed Partnership is always looking for more volunteers to help out in the mountains or in other ways. Visit http://kohalawatershed.org/ for more information on the organization and to learn how you can help.

“Kohala, known to most as an extinct volcano on the Big Island, is more than just one of the oldest volcanoes on this island. Kohala Mountain is now the home of certain species of plants and animals that cannot be found anywhere else in not just Hawaii, but the whole world,” said UHH exchange student Olena Kagui, one of the volunteers.

“It is also an important source of rainwater that supports the unique native species living on the mountain as well as providing water for human communities. There are certain species of plants and animals that are not native to the mountain that are threatening to damage the ecosystem and in doing so kill the rare species living there,” she said.

This post was updated on June 14th, 2018: the text, as well as title and headline, may have been edited, proofread and optimized for search engines. The featured image may have been changed due to copyright or quality issues.

 

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