The Meridian Schools so kindly invited Huraiti Mana back to participate in their amazing educational programs such as the annual Global Citizen's Symposium. The Meridian Schools faculty and staff believe "that the challenges of our world require culturally competent, well-rounded, critically thinking individuals who are prepared to be responsible and active local and global citizens. This symposium offers an opportunity to expose our students to leaders who promote local and global social change in many different ways. Through a variety of workshops, we seek to inspire and empower our students by learning how people help to improve conditions in their communities with everyday big and small contributions."
Huraiti Mana hosted a lei-making workshop focusing on the wili style in Native Hawaiian lei lā'ī or ti-leaf lei. First, we begin with our oli kahea, an entrance or permission chant. We center ourselves. Open ourselves to new wisdom and experience. Some students focused and closed their eyes while oli filled the room. Then, we agree upon ka papa oia'i'o - our class values - to (1) care for and be kind to our space, our environment; take only what you need. (2) To be kind to ourselves and give ourselves time; be patient with our work. And (3) value the experience and our lei. Then, we create! And afterwards we ask: was it challenging? "Yes!" If you were to give others' your lei, would they understand or see how challenging it was? "Yes, maybe, no!" Our answers varied. Perhaps it is because they may not have experienced this process or seen this process before. It is important that we do experience other people's practices, even if for a moment, because it is not until we understand a small portion of the experience - the spirituality of oli, the mālama or care for our land, the difficulty and labor of love in lei - that we understand the significance, the meaning, and the love of a people's tradition. We create empathy for people other than our own. And for those who are Native Hawaiian, we create empathy for ourselves and our people. It is with this kind of understanding we hope students and teachers carry forward in the world.
There were so many amazing artists I met in passing between our workshops, Roger with his captivating Native American Indian Story Telling, Nahaan with Carving and Design from Alaskan heritage (children carved using soap!), Arturo with Afro-Cuban drumming, and so many more. It is an honor to work within such a great program and community. Mahalo nui loa!