Through key partnerships between the University of Hawaiʻi, Department of Education and Kamehameha Schools, the Hawaiʻi Pacific Voyaging Program was launched this past fall at Molokaʻi and Farrington high schools.
Molokaʻi High students recently completed their capstone project for the pilot program which will provide college credits to those who complete a roundtrip, interisland journey between Molokaʻi and Maui aboard the waʻa Moʻokiha o Piʻilani, a living classroom for the youth of Hawaiʻi and community of Maui.
The dual-credit program capitalizes on the expertise and rich resources of Hawaiʻi’s statewide community colleges, ʻohana waʻa, and the continued collaboration efforts of Hawaiʻi’s DOE and the UH system.
“None of this would’ve happened without the DOE, Kamehameha Schools and our partners,” said Lohiao Paoa, a teacher at UH Maui College who teaches the dual-credit course at Molokaʻi High School. “So that’s what we want to teach, you can’t do anything on the waʻa by yourself.”
The partnership between the three major educational institutions is a result of the Promise to Children effort through the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage. The Promise pledges to “create advocacy and action through classrooms and educational initiatives that promise to create, sustain and navigate a movement dedicated to future generations imbued with the goodness of Hōkūleʻa and the wisdom born of her legacy.”
Seventeen-year-old Tulua Aivao, a student at Molokaʻi High School who completed the sail, looks forward to what this experience will do for his future.
“What this will do for my future endeavors is connect me to my roots,” explained Aivao. “You open yourself up and allow yourself to learn teamwork and dedication. Overall devotion.”
The new effort is based on the principle that cultural engagement and academic rigor, combined with the opportunity to save time and money, are powerful motivators for students to work hard toward achieving academic and lifelong success. The program intentionally blends and compresses the time it takes to complete a high school diploma and the first two years of college.
The program is designed to enhance the skills and firsthand experiences for students in the areas of science, technology, math, history and ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi.
“The voyaging canoe is the most central symbol to how we arrived here,” said Kala Tanaka, educational outreach coordinator and navigator for Hui o Waʻa Kaulua, Maui’s Voyaging Society. “There is a lot of accumulated knowledge that has been passed down through generations. It [the program] ties into learning science, mathematics and physics, but from a cultural perspective first.”
Through its community partnerships, the Hawaiʻi Pacific Voyaging Program looks to expand to more DOE and Hawaiian-focused public charter schools next spring.