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KSK haumāna from the Ka‘āmauloa Pathway project helped to craft the message delivered by Hawai‘i youth as part of the Sustainable Development Goals panel discussion at the United Nations.

KS haumāna take ‘ōiwi leadership to a global stage at the United Nations

Sept. 14, 2023

This weekend, 11 haumāna from KSK Class of 2027 embark on a journey to represent Hawai‘i on one of the largest political stages of the world: the United Nations in New York City. Now ninth graders, last year they were part of Kula Waena's Ka‘āmauloa Pathway program where they learned how to connect ancient practices of the past to issues facing the world today. In New York, they will participate in a panel discussing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and how the United States is taking action toward achieving those goals by 2030.

“We all spent a year in this course trying to learn the most we can about the SDGs and sustainability,” said Cooper Long. “We want to show our sense of leadership. So alaka‘i lawelawe, servant leadership. As the next generation, we are affected by this and so we want to show how we're trying to make change.”

“We have such a profound sense of urgency as well,” adds Camryn Alomar. “We're the class of 2027, that's three years before it's 2030. We're focused on: things need to start being done now. So I think it's good that we are the ones going to New York and kind of putting ourselves in that position of leadership and sharing also as Hawaiians.”

While many countries have submitted reports called the Voluntary National Review (VNR) to illustrate their efforts toward meeting the SDGs, Hawai‘i stands alone as the only state in the U.S. to present a Voluntary Local Review (VLR) - not even the U.S. as a nation has submitted a review for its performance delivering against these Global Goals. This group of KSK haumāna have written and recorded the introduction to the review, which will be presented in both English and ‘Ōlelo Hawai‘i. Kinohi Souki and her classmates are proud their language is being recognized on a global level. “Now that it's being represented more, especially at the UN, it's kind of like a huge leap in Hawai‘i's identity and how we're thought of, like we're more than just a stereotype. Without the language we have no culture, and without our culture, we are nothing,” she said.

To Timoteo Esene, this trip is a modern-day extension of the work of the ali‘i from generations past. “Going to the UN and representing Hawai‘i at a global scale, I feel it's kind of like a continuation of Hawaii's legacy, and what Hawaiians do best. Hawaii has a long history of diplomacy,” he said. “ I feel like also there's kind of a sense of pride in this, as ever since the US kind of colonized Hawai‘i, Hawaiians have been on the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder, and they haven't really had a voice in any decision making. So to be represented on the global stage is a big deal.”

All the students are eager to bring Hawaiian values and practices to help solve these global issues. “There's always cause and effect to everything else. That system-thinking is what we have to take with us,” said Kapena Silva. “I hope to bring our spirit of aloha, how we love the land, how we love each other and how we love ourselves,” said Elsie Kamanu. “Because aloha is our superpower,” Long chimed in, to the agreement of the rest of the room.

The group hopes their activism will encourage all Hawai‘i youth to take action on these important sustainability issues. “Just because we are the ones going on this trip and representing the culture, it's not just us. Anyone can do it, anyone can step up and talk about how the problems in the world are affecting us,” said Makena Apo. Pili Carlson agrees: “It's really important that we go up to New York and we can inspire other people and our fellow classmates as well, that they do have a voice.”

The haumāna will be vlogging their trip. Follow them here:

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