By: Rain Makekau, ASA Cohort 4 Participant
Aloha, my name is Rain and I am in my first year of the Ahupua’a Systems Apprenticeship program. I didn’t have any thought about going to college until I came across Ho’okua’aina on Instagram. I thought that I wouldn’t be able to pay for college and my mental health wasn’t doing too well either. So in the meantime, I just stuck to working. However, the program looked like it would be a perfect fit for me. I always knew I wanted to get into agriculture and Hawaiian studies. Upon our first day, I realized the atmosphere was something transformative. I felt like I opened a new door to the next steps in my life.
Initially, I wasn’t planning on making any friends. I was just there to work and go to school. However, over the course of the program, I gained many new friends and a huge support system. My cohort became so close by the time the summer term ended. I got to start college with the positive mindset that I am capable of getting my AA.
School aspect aside, the program also taught me life lessons through working in the kalo patch, and the ‘olelo no’eau we learn about with Uncle Dean. “Nani ke kalo” was the first thing we were taught and I immediately shared it with friends and family, and I continue to follow it. It reminds me to be aware of how I behave wherever I am and to be mindful. The hands-on work teaches me patience, self-discipline, and to put 100% into what I do. Cultivating and farming kalo is not easy. When we work in groups the work gets done quicker, but only if you work well with others.
This program has helped me in so many ways. It has helped me work better with my social anxiety, given me a space where I know who I can come to if anything were to happen and has made me hopeful for my future. The program has also flowed through me to my family. They are always excited to hear about how my day was at the lo’i and hear about what I learned.
I’m very thankful to have come across Ho’okua’aina. It’s an amazing organization and the people I’ve met are now more like family. I’d probably still be working at Target right now with no thought of college. Instead, I’m in the spring semester, of my first year of college towards getting my AA in Hawaiian studies and agriculture.