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Episode 52: Bringing aloha ??ina into education with Ku Kahakalau

In the early 1990s, Ku Kahakalau began taking students into Waipi?o Valley to learn from the land. Students would harvest kalo in the valley’s lo?i, tend gardens, spend hours each day with their hands in the valley’s rich soil, tending to the new shoots they’d planted. Over the years Kahakalau has taught thousands of students through the innovative ??ina -based educational programs she’s created. Always her goal has been to get young people to learn to love the land, to take care of it and to understand its importance. The results, she says, are invariably powerful—not just for the teachers, but for the students.

“For many of them they will tell you how much fun they had learning from the land. That’s one of the most exciting parts, that while this is rigorous—working the land is not just sitting on a lounge chair on the side of the lo?i, it’s work—and yet it’s not perceived as work and learning is not perceived as learning, they’re perceived as fun.”

Ultimately, says Kahakalau, bringing aloha ??ina into education is of benefit to all: the people and the land.

“If we can get the students to be part of this revolution that brings us back to taking care of the land how our k?puna used to and growing our food again and using our natural resources wisely that’s wonderful to have that as a beacon of hope for the future.”

researcher, writter, and narrator of Aloha Aina. She is currently an editor at Hawai‘i’s largest magazine, Hana Hou!, where she has written and edited numerous award-winning articles about Hawai‘i. She was the founding editor of Honolulu Weekly. She holds a BA in Pacific history and journalism from the University of Hawai‘i at Mänoa and a JD from Stanford Law School.
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