Surfing at Waikiki

Somehow we all managed to leave the hostel at 6:30 am to walk to our surfing lesson at 7:00 am. Our three instructors met us and gave out water shoes and rash guards to each of us. We started out on the land and did stretches.

1544942_666815573364243_41927019_nThey then separated us into three groups of four, four, and three. While still on land, the first group got onto the surfboards and were taught how to lay, sit, and stand on board. Then the first group was taken out into the water to surf, while the second group stayed close to shore and practiced, and the third group stayed on the land. From there, each group got about 30 minutes to surf with the instructors. When my group went we strapped the ankle strap on, laid on our stomachs, and paddled out to the instructors. The instructors would hold our boards and wait for a good wave to come. When a good wave would come they would give us a push and tell us to paddle. You were then supposed to get on your knees, then your feet, and stand up.

1531783_666814333364367_135253924_nStanding up while surfing was slightly tricky, it required some balance. After riding the wave for what felt like an average of 6 seconds, we would either fall or sit back down on our boards and slowly paddle back to the instructors and repeat. The paddle back was a workout on the arms, at least for me, I was a little sore the next day. The soreness was worth it, surfing was a blast. We all were able to stand up on the boards and surf. I hope I’m able to go surfing again someday.

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Farmers Market at Kapiolani Community College

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The KCC Farmer’s Market was much different from the first farmer’s market in Hilo.  The idea was still the same in that all food was grown and produced on the Hawaiian islands.  However, there were many vendors who sold hot foods and fresh drinks.  It was less about produce and more about meals.  This was enjoyable for many of us, because w love to try new foods!  Fruits and vegetables were commonly sold, but this farmer’s market consisted of restaurants and culinary schools making and selling foods right on the spot.  One of my favorite places in particular was a vegan vendor who gave out every sample of every food and all of the food was creatively made from animal-free products!  In addition to food, there were a few environmental conscious vendors and clothing vendors.  These were interesting too, but I was very fascinated by all the amount of food vendors creating amazing foods from local ingredients!  It was a community of people working towards food sustainability.

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– Briella


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Hilo Farmers Market

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The Hilo Farmer’s Market was a beautiful market full of color.  There was a variety of fruits and some vegetables. Avocados were the size of softballs and bananas half the size of normal bananas.  In order to understand the origin of each fruit we had to ask the vendors questions such as the names of the fruits, where they came from, and how they were grown. Majority of the produce was local and grown on smaller farms which made these fruits more sustainable. We all bought and tried new fruits that we are unable to get in Michigan. One of these in particular was a rambutan which resembled a grape on the inside, but had a red spiky outer shell.  In addition to fruits and other native foods, many of the vendors sold art, jewelry, Hawaiian oils, clothing, wood carvings, etc. Each vendor was excited to talk about their products and we were all excited to learn more about Hawaiian culture!

– Briella

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Pearl Harbor

Upon going to Pearl Harbor, I personally was impressed with the detail, artifacts and vastness of the area. We explored the museum as it walked us through the events that led to the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the bombing itself, and the aftermath and devastation caused by the bombing. After the museum, Michelle and I walked over towards the submarine. On our way we stopped and read about the variety of missiles and torpedoes used, their details, and their technological progression.   Image

We finally made it to the submarine and were impressed with the sheer size. As we made our way back to the group, we passed a large anchor, which was one of the three of the USS Arizona’s anchors. The group then sat and watched a documentary about the events that occurred on December 7, 1941 which were rich in detailed history.


Everyone then climbed aboard a ferry that took us to the USS Arizona Memorial which was built upon the sunken USS Arizona itself in memory of the 1,102 sailors and marines killed by the Japanese that day. Words fail to adequately describe the amount of reverence and humility I experienced.


I went to the back of the memorial that has a wall filled with the names of those who’s lives were taken from them. To me, it was strange to think that countless people skim the wall barely looking at the names, when in reality each one of those names represents a person’s family, friends and their entire life. I took the time to pick out a few of names just to meditate and think about the life they might have had and the impact their sudden death might also have had. It was eerie to think about the lives that had been taken were, to some extent, right beneath our feet.   Image

I looked at the map at the center of the memorial where the length of the ship was marked. From buoy to buoy marks the entirety of the ship but it fails to really show the depth. It was hard for me to picture this massive vessel losing its strength and power upon attack. As we left Pearl Harbor, I think everyone was wondering what it might have been like to be in there on December 7, 1941.



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Preserving the Culture

Aloha! Hawaii is known for its immeasurable natural beauty, but what makes this place amazing is the variety of people from all walks of life.  The chain of islands draws people from all around the world because of its awesome climates, huge waves, and rich culture.  Since being in the State I have encountered Europeans, Canadians,  American mainlanders, South Americans and of course the Native Hawaiians.  The main influence on Hawaiian culture is various Asian countries such as Thailand, China, Korea, and Japan.  Everywhere I go I see plenty of restaurants serving the cuisines of these countries.  Another factor that determines Hawaiian culture is the plants that have been introduced to the area.  There are many fruits and other plants that are indicative of the culture such as pineapple, guava, passion fruit, dragon fruit, and especially taro.  The taro plant grows an edible root that after being processed is known as poi which became a staple of the Native Hawaiians.  The group had the opportunity to try poi, however due to the bland and starchy nature of the food it was not a crowd favourite.  Although we didn’t enjoy eating poi, it became a symbol for traditional Hawaiian culture.  We learned about the ahupua’a style of farming, in which taro plants were vital in sustaining the population.  As the state of Hawaii moves forward into planning for the future, it must do so in a way that culture is preserved so that generations to come will appreciate their rich history.

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Swimming Experiences

So far we have swam at various different beaches on the Big Island and Maui.

The first beach on the Big Island was Robinson Park. We went with a Hawaiian family, the Kos. They helped us climb through the rocks to a cliff where we could jump off into the water. Climbing the volcanic rocks was a bit difficult (at least for me); most of us left this beach with a few scratches from the climb. The beach had small waves and black sand. Lauren and I tried to swim as far as we could, until a paddle boarder told us we had gone too far and needed to turn around. We were thankful the paddle boarder had warned us, because we were quite exhausted on the swim back. A few others either laid out or snorkeled. We all wore water shoes, so we didn’t have any sea urchin problems at this beach.


Not sure what the second beaches’ name was, but it was on the Big Island. The waves were very calm and nobody else was there. Most of the time we laid out, but eventually we got hot enough to go in the water. Unfortunately, most of us didn’t bring our water shoes to this beach, so we were scared of stepping on sea urchins. We tentatively swam out a few yards, while Wes scanned the ocean floor for sea urchins with his goggles on. He ended up seeing sea urchins beneath us and we all rushed out after three minutes of swimming.

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Lahina Walkway held a street fest that was right on the beach. After walking down the entire walkway and looking at all of the vendors, Stevie and I went swimming at one of the very small beaches at the end of the walkway. There weren’t any sea urchins or waves and most of the swimmers were children.

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This past Monday, January 22, we went to a beach after arriving in Maui. This was a big white sand beach with huge waves. Tasha, Wes, Potluck, and I tried swimming at this beach. Tasha and I had a hard time staying afloat with the undertow and strength of the waves. We weren’t even worried about sea urchins, we were mainly concerned with not drowning. We eventually gave up after being swept underneath the surface for the fifth time. This beach was a good reminder on how strong the ocean is. Wes and Potluck were brave and somehow managed to swim even farther out with stronger waves.

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I’ve really enjoyed the various different beaches, I think I’m even used to saltwater now, and I’m glad we haven’t had any problems yet with sharks, sea urchins, or jellyfish.

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Mokuaikaua Church

Our first Sunday on the Big Island we had the opportunity to attend a local church. We attended Mokuaikaua Church. Something interesting behind the meaning of the word Mokuaikaua is that it means “district acquired by war” in the Hawaiian language. This was the first Christian church in Hawaii, founded in 1820 by Asa and Lucy Goodale Thurston. They arrived on the Thaddeus, the first ship of American Christian Missionaries.

Mokuaikaua Church was interesting because the majority of individuals attending were visitors. This made sense because the church was located in a dense tourist location. The church was beautiful in a simple way.

The service was fairly similar to the typical churches located in Grand Rapids. However, some of the Bible verses were first spoken in Hawaiian followed by English. Attending church in Hawaii was a great experience to join in worship with our group, other tourists, and locals.


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