Friday, March 25, 2016
We all learn from stories, so as we set out for our tour of the north shore of Oahu we listened. We talked stories. And through our stories we learned.
Among the first stories Pualani wanted to talk is the story of Pearl Harbor and the circumstances that gave context to that infamous moment in history. Pualani tested our knowledge of history, including our awareness of Matthew Perry's role in forcing Japan to open in 1853. This event set the stage for the attack.
Throughout our tour, Pualini fed us the stories of Hawaii. We learned about the history of pineapple growing and visited the Dole plantation.
Pualini wanted to make sure we tasted all the flavors of Hawaii, so she shared pineapple sprinkled with Li Hing Mui powder and insisted we try some. We can buy it at Costco if we want some Hawaiian flavor at home.
Agriculture played a major theme in our day with Pualini, and we quite enjoyed learning about growing apple bananas and papayas at a small farm where Daniel taught us about crop rotation and the challenges facing Hawaiian agriculture.
Pualani did not limit her stories to history; she told us about her family's role in protecting the north shore, the homeless issue facing Hawaii, and poverty as an ever present threat.
Pualina, story talker extraordinaire, made my heart sing when she turned to me and said, "Ms. Funk, I have a lot of books in my bag that I think will interest you." She had been pulling books out one by one throughout the day and using them to support her stories.
Still, I work to confront and work through this H2O fear of mine. I learned to swim. I've tried water skiing. I've tubed on the river. I've canoed and kayaked, too.
Getting in the ocean raises my fears to a whole other level. Not wanting to observe others' fun, I will snorkel.
Today I snorkeled in one of America's best snorkeling spots, Haunama Bay on Oahu. The dark spots in the picture is choral reef.
The bay is a popular destination, so access is limited. We went with a tour company and had eight in our group, including a lovely family from Japan, and a couple fromVermont. The company privided us dry snorkels. If you've never used a dry snorkel, you'll want to next time you're in the ocean because they are fantastic, allowing no water to backwash into the snorkel.
I wanted to experience the moment, so I did not take pictures while in the water. I did see more than a dozen different types of fish pictured on the Haunama Bay fish card:
I wish more students had the opportunity to experience earth's majesty by swimming with the fishes. Perhaps then we'd all do more to protect our fragile ecosystem.
Wednesday, March 23, 2016
I touch the past and the past whispers to me when I visit memorials and monuments.
I have often created imaginative, historic worlds in my mind. I travel to these places, often through reading, but also through physically visiting the sites of historically important events.
From the moment I first learned about the national memorial honoring the servicemen who died at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, I've longed to visit the site, which is accessible only by boat.
The memorial symbolizes the high points of American strength on both ends and the low point of December 7, 1941 in its gently curving design.
The symbol on the right is the Tree of Life representing rebirth and renewal. The tree, as designed by the memorial' architect Alfred Preis also reminds visitors that we are all interconnected. The tree is on both sides of the memorial.
The memorial straddles the remains of the Arizona, much of which is visible to onlookers. I saw the black tears of oil that still seep from the sunken vessel.
Perhaps knowing the servicemen are entombed in a watery grave within the sunken ship made the experience more sacred.
Perhaps the quiet simplicity of the memorial's design stirred my emotions. I tend to react more emotionally to simple designs than to others.
Our memorials tell stories, stories that invite us to remember those who sacrificed their lives for ours, stories that ask us to honor the sacrifice, stories that challenge us to understand so that we'll have no need for future memorials.
Tuesday, March 22, 2016
Guilt by association. Fearmongering. These drove Executive Order 9066.
Visiting the Japanese Cultural Center today, this and other atrocities weighed on my mind.
Did you know that Japanese who first migrated to Hawaii lived much like 18th and 19th Century slaves? Like indentured servants? Arriving in Hawaii, many were stripped of their names, stripped of their identity, stripped of their dignity. I thought about Southern slave auction blocks as I read their accounts.
Hearing the stories of early plantation workers reveals the brutal truth that what we know as slavery didn't end with the Emancipation Proclamation. Rather, the objectification and commodification of people shifted both geographically and racially. Japanese came to Hawaii in the late 1800s to toil on sugar plantations, and this they did often in wretched conditions.
As we toured the exhibits, I thought about those who claim to have made their fortunes on their own merit, the myth of the so-called "self-made man," and I thought about how interdependent our successes are to those who pave the way. We are what we are because of one another. The exhibit began with this acknowledgment.
On the board is part of a response to the prompt "What democracy means to me."
Japanese arrived in Hawaii as Japanese citizens, yet despite dehumanizing treatment, despite the internment camps, despite the many indignities immigrants often suffer, they acknowledge their assimilation and connection to America.
Education offered a way to assimilate and retain cultural identity. At one time, however, Hawaii had what are known as Japanese Language School laws that imposed strict teacher certification requirements as well as instructional rules. The Supreme Court struck these down in 1927, a victory for the Japanese in Hawaii.
One exhibit replicated a school, and I recognized the basil readers on display, the same Dick and Jane books I learned to read from.
On the board is part of a response to the prompt "What democracy means to me."
In1954 republicans accused democrats of having been usurped by Communism. Here's Senator Daniel Inouye's response: "The only weapon In the republican arsenal is to label as communists men so recently returned from the firing lines in Italy and France...We bitterly resent having our loyalty and patriotism questioned by cynical political hacks who lack the courage to debate the real issues in this campaign."
History has a way of drawing circles across time. Lucretius wrote about this. Homer's epics mimic this ring structure. I believe we are living in such a time, and I worry that many don't see or heed the parallels.
I wanted to visit the Japanses Cultural Center to honor those Japanese Americans who have given this country so much economically and culturally.
The past year I've found myself reflecting on the history of the internment camps as the current political climate echoes that moment in history.
This slice serves as an acknowledgment that I am who I am because of all who have touched my life both directly and indirectly.
This slice offers my promise that I will do all in my power to prevent and speak against our nation repeating the atrocities experienced by the Japanese with other marginalized groups targeted by paranoid fearmongerers.
The exhibit ended full circle, reminding and acknowledging that we are what and who we are because of one another. What we must decide is who and what will we as a nation be?
Monday, March 21, 2016
Mindful that psychologists caution us to live in the moment of our experiences rather than rely on photos as surrogate memory vessels, I warned myself not to obsess over difficulties with the phone.
I needed to check my reasons for documenting my experiences with photos. Do I take pictures to remember? Do I take pictures to share my experiences on social networking?
Linda Hinkel, who studies the effect of photography on memory, says we're less likely to recall details of an experience when we over-expose it to taking pictures. She cautions us against the "photo-taking impairment effect" that results when we use pictures as memory devices, and she has the research to support her conclusions.
"As soon as you hit 'click' on that camera, it's as if you've outsourced your memory," she says. "Any time we ... count on these external memory devices, we're taking away from the kind of mental cognitive processing that might help us actually remember that stuff on our own," explains Hinkel.
To really remember my first helicopter ride, I'd need to concentrate on the journey. I'd need to live in the moment. I'd need to fix each scene in my memory and work to make each stick.
I want to recall the details of my bird's eye view excursion, so I also need to record the event, not just with photos but also with words.
How often does one get the opportunity to explore Ohau from a doors-off helicopter anyway?
My husband Ken sat to my right, our piolot Nathan to my left. I nested in the middle. Perched in the helicopter, I secured my seatbelt and soared.
We spread our wings into canyons with majestic hidden waterfalls.
We retraced the flight pattern the Japanese flew when they bombed Pearl Harbor on that day that lives in infamy.
Years ago I read "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" by Richard Bach. I remember seeing it in Waldon Books when it first came out in 1970, picking it up and admiring the beauty of the cover and the lyricism of the language. I bought the book with money I received from my twelfth birthday. As I read I knew much of the book's significance escaped me.
Today I thought about Jonathan and his desire to soar beyond the limits of ordinary gulls. That passion and drive spoke to me long ago and resonates with me still.
"Don’t believe what your eyes are telling you. All they show is limitation. Look with your understanding. Find out what you already know and you will see the way to fly."
The sights and sounds of Polynesia fed my spirit today, reminding me of the myriad people's and flavors of this big blue marble we share.
In Pocatello we have a growing Polynesian community of Hawaiians, Samoans, Tongans, and other Pacific Islanders. They enrich our community with music, dance, and savory eats.
Yet we were surprised when we met a bus driver our first day in Hawaii who lived at one time in Idaho.
As an American living in the 48 continuous states that comprise the mainland, I hadn't thought about the possibility that a state wouldn't look like those I've visited and lived in. Yet Hawaii is a melting pot of Pacific cultures. White people like my husband and me are the minority, and encountering non-English speakers happens frequently.
We attended a Luau that featured songs and dance of Polonysia. Throughout I thought about my Samoan students, whose culture features fire dancers:
Earlier I pondered the isolationism promoted among candidates who dot the landscape while on our Atlantis submarine excursion. The sub provided whisper sync narration to guests in a variety of languages, including Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, and others. It was a Lingua smorgasbord!
Impressively, our guide spoke numerous languages and often referred to sea life in several. Each time he spotted a sea turtle, he shouted: "Tortuga, Tortuga." Something about the word made the sightings more exotic, more unique.
As we learned about the University of Hawaii's partnership with Atlantis to restore reefs along Waikiki, I thought about how interconnected we all are to one another.
I sat next to an Asian man, and even though we didn't speak, and even though we had never met, together we shared this experience of diving 120 feet to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, something one tenth of one percent of the population experiences, according to our crew of divers.
Hawaiians embrace their exotic culture and language, and both pull visitors like myself to this fiftieth state.
I wonder: What would Hawaii lose, what would the U. S. lose without the multi-vocal Tortuga Lingua of this Polynesian world?
Sunday, March 20, 2016
I had an idea that we--my husband and I--should walk from our hotel to Diamondhead.
I had an idea that we should walk from our hotel, the Hilton Hawaiian Village, to Diamondhead via the beach walkway.
I had no idea that the walkway did not stretch the entire length of the beach from our hotel to Diamondhead.
Having searched Dr. Google and other internet sites, I still wanted to give it a go. So we did.
We began walking, and as we began walking, we continued talking.
I had an idea that we would walk, and we would talk. Often our conversations changed course based on our observations along our walk.
Early in our journey we chatted with a family with daughters. One little girl told us today was her sister's turn to choose what to do. I told her I think girls should always be in charge. Dad responded, "I'm learning in a family of women that's always the case." I suggested he read "Why We Should All Be Feminists" and listen to Justin Trudeau talk about feminism. I have an idea this father will do just fine.
Soon, the sidewalk ended.
I had an idea that we continue walking along the beach and see if the sidewalk reappears.
My shoes filled with sand and waves washed over them, making them even more difficult to walk in.
I had an idea that I should remove my shoes and carry them. I bent over and took off my shoes, but when I commenced washing them in the ocean, my iPhone 6 fell out of my bag.
I had NO idea that would happen. I scooped up the phone and pleaded, "Help me."
Ken had an idea to quickly dry the phone, and I removed the Otter Box and checked the phone's reception only to see the message " This device may not be compatible with this phone and may not work properly."
Apple had an idea to improve its phones, and even though I had an idea that my phone would die, it did not. Thus, I am able to write this post.
I had an idea that we should continue our journey to Diamondhead despite the phone mishap. Along our journey, we met a woman selling catamaran rides. "Would you like a catamaran ride today?" She asked.
"We're walking to Diamondhead."
"In this heat? It's forty minutes to the base, and then the hike is like a donkey walk. You'd be better off going at sunrise."
I had an idea she might be right, but we decided to journey on and see where the road took us.
After a little while longer, we left the beach and walked along the parkway that traverses Waikiki Beach, which has a huge public park.
I bought a hat at an ABC store, and Ken argued with a street-corner evangelist.
Soon we arrived at the Honolulu Aacquarium. I had an idea that we go in.
"We might as well since we're here," said Ken. We talked about the fish we observed. Ken said, "People don't have a clue how important the ocean is to our survival." Of course, he's right.
On our return trip we stopped for shave ice and watched an intercollegiate beach volleyball tournament. Who knew Nebraska has a beach volleyball team?
I mentioned that since beach volleyball is free to watch, the sport seems expensive to run. We talked about this and the cost of athletic programs.
Along the journey to our hotel, we shopped in some fun stores and decided we like a doggie t-shirt store best and that our favorite shirt is one with the caption "It's all fun and games until someone has to wear a cone."
We continued walking through the shopping district, and Ken had an idea that we should return to the beach, so we did.
Eventually, we reached our hotel and saw a sign for Happy Hour. We both had an idea that Happy Hour was a perfect way to end a pleasant walk, a perfect way to continue our pleasant talk.