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graphic promoting the power of ho o kui

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa leaders explore how traditional Hawaiian knowledge, education and a stronger future are hoʻokuʻi (brought together) in a pilot documentary, The Power of Hoʻokuʻi: Joining Together to Build our Future. A product of Project Hoʻokuʻi, a support program for high school students developed by the UH Mānoa College of Education’s Center on Disability Studies (CDS), the film will premiere on Thursday, September 21, at 7 p.m. on KHON2.

The Power of Hoʻokuʻi: Joining Together to Build our Future premieres Thursday, September 21, at 7 p.m. on KHON2

Project Hoʻokuʻi is a U.S. Department of Education, Native Hawaiian Education Program, grant funded project that is inclusive and supports underserved students with priority given to Native Hawaiian, Native Hawaiian gifted and talented, students with disabilities and at-risk students transitioning from high school to postsecondary education and certification programs. Currently on its fifth iteration, the program has helped nearly 2,500 high school students since it first launched in 2009. Project Hoʻokuʻi provides support services including financial aid, mentoring, tutoring and internship programs.

“The documentary gives the Hawaiʻi community and students awareness and hope for the future and encourages them to pursue their goals and dreams through education,” said Project Hoʻokuʻi Principal Investigator Lisa Uyehara, an associate specialist faculty with CDS. “We can support students, but at the end of the day, it is their hard work that leads to their success and confidence building.”

Kea Clebsch, a student who participated in Project Hoʻokuʻi, was featured in the film, and is hopeful for viewers to see the value of place-based education and how much one opportunity can change a student’s trajectory.

“For me, all it took was one Hawaiian Studies class to finally see myself in education and feel that my identity had a place in my learning content,” said Clebsch. “It took one kumu (teacher) that created space for me to find a sense of agency in my education and realize what I have to contribute to my community.”

Featured UH Mānoa representatives include Jon Osorio, dean of Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge; Provost Michael Bruno; Ka Papa Loʻi o Kānewai Director Makahiapo Cashman; and Willy Kauai, director of Native Hawaiian Student Services. The leaders discussed the impact Project Hoʻokuʻi has had on the Native Hawaiian student population attending and completing college. The importance of Native Hawaiian culture and ʻāina-based learning and its global impact will also be highlighted in the broadcast.

“I believe Hawaiʻi can be the beacon for the world in mālama honua (taking care of the planet),” added Uyehara.

Higher education opportunities for Hawaiʻi’s youth

The support and opportunities Clebsch received through Project Hoʻokuʻi allowed her to forge a new path during high school and now her higher education.

Hoʻokuʻi created the space for me to learn about myself, experience makawalu (looking at situations in different perspectives) and develop a deepened sense of kuleana (responsibility) for the people and place I care about,” said Clebsch. “It was in these educational settings where I realized I could embrace a cross-pollination of art and research to solve problems that matter to me. Hoʻokuʻi allowed me to see a role in my community, and envision a future for myself grounded in a sense of place, belonging and kuleana.”

Learn more about Project Hoʻokuʻi.

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