Cultural Engagement Vital for Sustaining Hawaii

One of the main reasons for coming on this trip for me was to learn more about, and experience the Hawaiian culture and how it fits into this whole sustainability idea. Before arriving in Hawaii I assumed it would be like any other of the states I have visited in the U.S. just a lot further away. I couldn’t have been more wrong, of course every state has different types of people and cultures to an extent, but Hawaii has a very rich culture. I have learned a lot about the Hawaiian culture from readings and interactions that I have had with locals thus far.

Starting with the Polynesian people is where it all begins. Without them I would not be experiencing Poi or Poke here in Hawaii. The Polynesians brought everything with them in regards to food in order to sustain themselves here on these islands. I think this is very unique, because when they arrived there wasn’t much of anything, but there was potential. This potential is what the Polynesian people sought out. They were able to utilize their resources to sustain a healthy way of living on a small area of land out in the Pacific Ocean. This is something that I find fascinating, because in today’s world we rely so much on imports and exports, that we often forget about doing things ourselves or how we are affecting the earth by our actions. If these people could live literally out in the Ocean with just the resources they cultivated themselves then I think we should undoubtedly be able to live more sustainable in Michigan as well as across the world.   

I can only imagine how peaceful and gratifying of a life it must have been for the Polynesian population, being able to harvest their own food and living without being dependent on other people or nations is something we hear rarely about if at all in the world we live in today. However just like today’s society the Polynesians also found themselves in a struggle when in 1787 Captain Cook and his crew discovered Hawaii. I think this discovery by the British Captain had some positive and negatives on the state of Hawaii. Looking from a positive perspective, the discovery opened the eyes to the rest of the world on this majestic place. It also provided the opportunity for people to learn about God and Christianity. Even though these things are great, I don’t know if they necessarily out weight all of the negatives that this discovery has caused. From bloody battles, to taking such advantage of resources like whaling and harvesting important trees as well as other animals that it quickly led to a loss and extinction of important resources that the Polynesian people relied so heavily on.

Reflecting on the history of Hawaii and the people that have inhibited this land I am starting to realize just how important it is in understanding not only what resources you need for survival, but also how vital it is to maintain those resources for ages to come. One of the ways Hawaii is attacking this scenario is through producing their own food and relying less on trade. This is one of the things I have enjoyed most learning about while here in Hawaii. We have visited several farms, including a chocolate farm. One thing that I can really appreciate about the chocolate farm is that the entire process from growing to finalizing the bean into edible chocolate is all done at one location. To me this screams sustainability because there are no middle men, which reduces the carbon footprint dramatically by reducing shipping pollution, but also coming from a business perspective saves money. Being a business major it is exciting to see that going green doesn’t always necessarily mean spending green, but saving green which in the end is always a win, win for not only you but the environment as well.  

From these visits, I am learning that Hawaii is really working on being more sustainable in the way they approach doing things and by this they are creating a healthier more ecofriendly environment.  Not only are the sustainability approaches here in Hawaii exciting, but the way of life is something I am really enjoying! I have been living on terms known as: “Hawaiian time” “Shocka” “Aloha” “Mohalo” and “Ohana.” Everyone that I have encountered thus far has been quite genuine, and everything is so laid back. I have escaped the busy 9-5 lifestyle and started living on Hawaiian time! Most importantly it has slowed my life down to a point where I am actually taking the time to learn new things and opening my life up to new experiences and adventures. I am very thankful for being able to experience this trip with such a great group of other Calvin students, we are a Calvin Ohana.  

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