2016 | Crossing Bridges

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Bringing Wahiawa Youth and Kūpuna Together

I ka wā ma mua, ka wā ma hope.
In the time in front, the time in back.

Loosely translated, this Hawaiian saying counsels that looking back at the
past can guide our actions in the future.

On a sunny Saturday morning, students from Leilehua High School, Wahiawa Middle School, Island Pacific Academy and George Washington University, sat down with kūpuna from Wahiawa, who shared their stories of growing up and living in this former plantation town located in central O‘ahu.

Life in Wahiawa has changed since its plantation days and it is for that reason “Crossing Bridges” was created so our haumana (students) could capture the oral history from these 24 outstanding kūpuna.

While life in Wahiawa was economically difficult, it was also culturally rich. Our kūpuna have shared their childhood memories about Wahiawa and their stories reveal a simpler time, when kids could entertain themselves without the benefit of technology, or television for that matter. Many of these kūpuna shared stories from their small kid days – picking pineapple in middle of a red dirt field, making their own toys out of sandalwood, and seeing the Japanese planes flying overhead as they attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Many of kūpuna grew up to do great things in life: serving our country, becoming a doctor, teacher or police officer, and opening successful businesses that served the Wahiawa community for many years.

As the kūpuna reminisced, the students absorbed and documented the stories that will help guide them and generations to come.

As with all ProjectFocus Hawai‘i programs, photography is an integral part of the storytelling process.  As the students documented the oral history from the kūpuna, they also captured the visual portraits of these important community elders.


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