I couldn’t be more thankful for the experiences I had on this trip to Oahu and the Big Island of Hawaii. For my first time visiting such a unique and special place, I was thankful I was more than just a tourist or a visitor. Instead, we were exposed to the culture that is preserved in daily Hawaiian lifestyles and graciously invited to community gardens where food was prepared for us. More than once, many encounters with people we had included talk of the importance of “aina” or land, and aloha aina, which expresses love for the land. These experiences I wouldn’t trade for anything. After our flight out of LAX, we talked with locals on the bus to Waikiki from Honolulu International Airport, learning pronunciation of typical Hawaiian words and the essentials to always have, one of which was an umbrella.
The tuna auction in Honolulu was amazing. I’ve seen tuna before but never that massive. Just rows and rows of fish coming off the boat and traveling to where ever the buyer chooses next.
Our time on the Big Island was also jam packed with many opportunities to see some of the projects happening there. From oyster farms and the importance of algae to eco tourism in manta ray diving and utilizing cold, deep sea water as a means of energy.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park was also an exciting place to visit. We were lucky to have a short hike and quick question-answer session with someone who works directly in the park and knew so much. I valued having more of an environmental insight with me as we carried on to the Jagger Museum later that day and I got to notice more of the economic and tourist aspect that the volcano presents.
One of the most memorable things I’ll have with me, being the city-raised girl I am, was stopping to see the lava flowing from a crater late at night and looking up at the milky way and too many stars to count. For some reason, clenching your jacket in the freezing wind and mixing in with the excited crowd of people just enlightens so many senses at once, it’s amazing.
I’d like to thank the ESRM department and the IRA for presenting this opportunity to me and a special thank you to Dr. Anderson for dedicating much time and effort to make all of this possible. This is truly an experience that I will hold in my heart, thank you.