Welcome Class VIII
Aloha mai kākou!
As the alumni are aware, Ulumau shares a sense of who we are, where we are and who was before us. This leads the participants of Ulumau through a pathway of engagement and connection. It was with this thought in mind that we began this year’s Class VIII of Ulumau at the Opening Retreat at Volcano. Under a gray, misty sky, a collection of talented, thoughtful individuals convened at the Volcano Visitors Center on Friday morning. By Sunday, they had grown into an optimistic group of friends ready to tackle their project. More on that topic later…
As many of us have experienced, the opening retreat grounds the participants in Hawaiian values and sense of place. Kanani Aton, of Class VI, was this years cultural advisor. Kanani is an amazing individual and she made a significant impression on the attendees. After gathering the participants at the Visitor’s Center, the class moved to Wahine Kapu. Kanani instructed the attendees on kapu aloha and kapu hamau. The attendees observed thirty minutes of silent, reflective time and turned their thoughts towards aloha. This is when the participants began to truly detach themselves from the world of work, commitments and ringing telephones and they began to center upon themselves. This silent, reflective time is a crucial element to the experience and an important reminder that we all need to make time for this type of meditation in our lives. For as Kanani reminded us, a cup that is already full is not able to receive.
We then traveled to Kilauea Overlook for the gathering of maile. Kanani taught the participants to pay respect to Tutu Pele and to ask permission before gathering anything. This is a lesson on the Hawaiian perspective on our relationship with nature. Cultivating a sense of gratitude to the creator of the island and for the many precious gifts that are afforded us is fundamental.
The afternoon session gave the attendees the chance to vocalize their wishes for the year. The central theme of their wishes revolved around connections…with themselves, with the culture and with the community. Then after giving the attendees time to check into their rooms and hit the General Store for….provisions….we reconvened for a session led by Michelle Guppy on the Kiersey evaluation.
There seems to be something about personality tests that causes much consternation. But these tests provide insights that are important reminders about getting along with others. That being that if you understand someone and yourself, you have an avenue to communicate, cooperate and succeed.
Friday evening during the retreat is always a highlight. Mark and Aloha joined arrived at KMC after traveling from O’ahu just in time for dinner and the evening’s program. After a fine meal we reconvened in the meeting room and began the preparations for the sunrise ceremony. A truly beautiful lei was made and placed in the ho’okupu to be given to Tutu Pele. The attendees learned chants while the gift was prepared.
The group retired with most of the attendees going to Buillding 76 (a 7 bedroom building) that housed much of the group. Class VIII displayed a creative flair with the provisions procured from the General Store. That is to say…what possible cocktail can be made with Guava rum, four limes and some mango juice. A certain mixologist in a sassy pair of Uggs showed what a creative and fun group we have in Class VIII.
At 5:40am the still sleepy Class VIII made their way to Kilauea. It was here that one of the most special events of the entire weekend took place. The chanting began as the sky brightened.
E Ala E
E Ala E
Ka Lai I Ka Hikina
I Ka Moana
Ka Moana Hou Honu
Pi’i Ka Lewa
Ka Lewa Nu’u
I Ka Hikina
Ae A Kala
E Ala E
We chanted and clapped in time as the clouds glowed with a burnished golden edge…a sign of the rising sun. Behind us Mauna Loa was bathed in pink light while to the east the sun shone through a small portal in the clouds. It was such a privilege to be there in that moment with a wonderful group of people. Moments like this make me so grateful to live on Hawai’i Island and to be a part of Ulumau.
The morning session featured Mark sharing his mana’o. Mark is an inspiring speaker and the attendees heard the story of Ulumau’s origins. Mark presented a few videos from The Simple Show about the Blue Economy and another on the concept of Gross National Happiness as espoused in the Himalayan country of Bhutan. After discussing his work on O’ahu and the opportunities afforded us through APEC, Mark reached back to Hawaiian history. 235 years ago, there was a thriving population on Hawai’i Island without imports, without exports and generated no waste. The lessons from that time need to be incorporated today to move our island home, our state and our world towards a sustainable and prosperous future.
Greg was next on the agenda and discussed his Models of Leadership presentation. Greg shared how Hawaiian principals inform leadership and decision making. Then Greg introduced the parameters for the project.
Based upon the comments made in the attendee’s applications the decision was made to base the projects on economic development. The parameters were this: to develop and implement an economic development strategy at the community, region, or island-wide level that creates an opportunity for people to prepare for and enhance their economic prospects, links resources between consenting parties to better leverage their economic opportunities, creates and/or opens doors for economic exchange between interested parties, etc..
Class VIII then began the brainstorming process regarding the project. Within a few hours they had decided upon their goals. Unlike in previous years when there were three distinct projects, they have decided to create three interdependent groups with a combined mission.
Ulumau Class VIII Project
· Section I, Learners
o Gathering together Lifeplan Level 2 teens and displaced employees of Kona Village to create a classroom for cross-training.
o The teens will mentor the adults in modern technology usage while the adults will mentor the teens in character development skills.
o Both groups will strive to learn alternative aspects of what is needed in today’s workplace, by mixing the modern with the traditional.
· Section II, Employers
o Employers will be gathered to contribute resources such as:
• a list of what skills employers look for,
• potential managers to come as speakers,
• opportunities for internships and/or employment
· Section III, Development
o Involvement at each stage of the project through:
• Creation of the curriculum, including measurement tools
• Searching for future resources to continue program
• Measurement of the program outcomes
This is a very ambitious project that will require a cohesive effort. But Class VIII certainly has shown themselves to be an engaged group that came together quickly on this mission.
There were more evening festivities and a great dinner brought to us by Malani and Donna. We were all grateful to these engaged alumni for driving so far to take care of us. Malani planned a group activity…I will let you look at Donna’s blog postings so that you can see it for yourself.
During the wrap up on Sunday morning we asked the attendees to share their thoughts and feelings about the weekend. The words that were shared were optimistic, collaboration, centered, friends, appreciation, connected, kuleana, recharged, impressed, fun and….humans don’t all suck. Judging by these words we can consider the retreat a great success.