A key assignment in the online class HDFS 331: Infancy and Early Childhood Development was almost derailed by COVID-19. It called for students to participate in a local Hawaiian cultural or community event, then discover and discuss connections between the cultural experience and young children’s development.
When community events had to be canceled because of the outbreak, it could have spelled disaster for the assignment. That’s when HDFS instructor Rheta Kuwahara reached out to the CTAHR and Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies ‘ohana to create an online cultural event that students could attend remotely. The support was resounding!
Rheta got together with Ilima Ho-Lastimosa, Hawaiian cultural practitioner and coordinator of the Waimanalo Learning Center at CTAHR’s Waimanalo Research Station, to film an interview and virtual field trip of the Learning Center’s Native Hawaiian hale and gardens, or mala, of food plants and la‘au lapa‘au, or medicinal herbs. Ilima teaches parents, children, and the community how to maintain the hale and grow the plants as part of the curriculum at Malama Honua Charter school in Waimanalo. In the interview, Ilima explains how to use the plants and describes how she works with the children.
CTAHR’s Jessie Radovich served as videographer and editor, and distance education coordinator Kellie Taguchi created live links for the video. Dean Jon Osorio and Keahiahi Sharon Long from Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies graciously shared numerous video resources to supplement the virtual field trip to provide more Hawaiian cultural context for students.
“The result was a virtual cultural experience that students could experience from O‘ahu, the neighbor islands, or other home states, and it was all accomplished with physical distancing, hand sanitizing, and aloha,” says Rheta. “A‘ohe hana nui ke alu ‘ia—no task is too big when done together by all.”