The Journey Continues

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The Journey Continues

Last time I posted, I mentioned I was going to Maui. Maui was awesome. We went there for a 3 day weekend and stayed in Lahaina. Lahaina was a really cool village. It reminded me of Cape Cod in Massachusetts. It used to be an old whaling town and now it has nice shops that line the street right next to the water. It had a very New Englandy feel which was interesting being in Hawaii and all.

One of our first stops was the Ocean Center which is Maui’s aquarium. One of the coolest parts was a tube you could you into where you were pretty much inside a tank and could see sharks and manta rays swim over you.

The next day, we were crazy and woke up at 3 AM and drove up to Mount Haleakala to a summit of 10,000 feet. Unfortunately, we were not prepared for this because it was freezing, about 50 degrees I think (I don’t know what I’m going to do when I go back to Massachusetts). We brought the blanket from our hotel but it wasn’t quiet enough to keep warm with the wind. However, we saw the sunrise over the clouds, which was quite breathtaking. Pictures really don’t do it justice.

From there, we continued on to the Hana Highway (which is a little misleading because you have to go about 25 MPH the whole way haha). The Hana highway is one of the most scenic routes in Maui littered with waterfalls and breathtaking views.

We purchased a cd that guided us along the Hana highway and told us where to stop along the way. We got to see a black sand beach, a lava tube, and a natural bridge. We stopped for lunch on the side of the road where a man was cooking chickens, as Anna recommended. I think that was the best chicken that I’ve ever had.

In the town of Hana, there is a red sand beach that was really cool. Can’t say I’ve ever seen anything like it. You have to hike a little ways to it, and its technically a nude beach as we found out when we arrived. We ended up snorkeling a little bit and saw some cool fish including a cornetfish.

At the end of the Hana highway we went on a 2 mile hike to a 400 foot waterfall which was really cool. The trail was covered with passion fruit trees so I was in my glory. I think I ate 6 passion fruits on the way to the waterfall. The waterfall was pretty amazing, I’ve never seen one that high before.

Again, pictures don’t do it justice. At the end of the highway, you can choose either to drive all the way back the way you came through winding roads and one land bridges, or drive straight through on an unpaved road that is shorter. We decided to drive straight through, which was very scary at night. But we made it back safe and sound and pretty much passed out at 8:00 at night. We spent the last day relaxing on the beach at the hotel which was very pretty. You could see Lanai and Molokai from the beach.


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A New Perspective

Coming to Hawaii has given me a new perspective on college, life, and culture. I’ve lived in Massachusetts my whole life, and escaped to nearby Rhode Island for college at Roger Williams University. Needless to say, I’m used to that east coast lifestyle – go, go, go; efficiency, efficiency, efficiency. Here in Hawaii, everyone is very laid back and slow, a very different lifestyle. This is one of the biggest things I’ve noticed about the culture here.

It surely is a different environment for me in several different ways. One of the most obvious being the warm climate, but also a huge mix of people from so many different backgrounds. Coming from a college that is 97% white, it is a big change, but a good one. I have really enjoyed learning about the different cultures that coexist here, especially the Hawaiian culture.

Being an RA here has given me a little bit of an inside look at Hawaiian culture. During RA training we have done several sessions on culture and diversity. We all submitted private questions that we had about each other – about hawaiians, mainlanders, and international students. One of the questions gave insight to why so many local students go home on the weekends here – to help out their families, do laundry, etc. Hawaiians are very family oriented people.

I think I may be one of the first, if not THE first, semester only student to become an RA here at UH. It has been an interesting journey. Being an RA here has allowed me to meet a lot of really cool, really nice people. It has given me the chance to speak with a lot of local people here at many of the other RA’s are from Hawaii. However, being an RA here is a lot of work; more work than being an RA at Roger Williams University. But the benefits are good – free room and board and a weekly stipend.

Now the good stuff – the island. The beaches here are great. So far I’ve been able to explore a lot of the island going to Waikiki of course, Waimea Bay and Turtle Bay (the resort) on the North Shore, as well as many of the beaches on the eastern shore.

My friends and I also had the chance to visit the island of Kauai. I must say, Kauai is absolutely gorgeous. Its a lot different than Oahu, most of it is like a jungle. Many films, like Jurassic park, have been filmed there. We had the chance to hike down the beautiful Na Pali coast which led us to a beautiful beach with virtually no one on it. We also had the chance to swim up to a huge waterfall and jump off another waterfall that was about 30 feet high.

We spend most weekends going to the beach, usually ones that are over an hour bus ride away. We’ve moved on from Waikiki beaches and the touristy areas. I’d say we usually go to the beach between 2-4 times per week which is pretty nice. If we have time, we’ll head over to Ala Moana beach park during the weekdays after classes to relax. Ala Moana provides a peaceful environment with a very calm bay to swim in. Mostly locals are at this beach as opposed to the beaches in Waikiki.

We’ve been able to see a lot of really cool sea creatures while snorkeling as well. We’ve swam with sea turtles, tons of tropical fish. I’ve also seen a couple eels and a shark (a small friendly one!)

All three of us (myself, Kenny, and Keith from RWU) are now scuba certified. Kenny and I finished our scuba class a couple weeks ago and are excited to go on a dive trip.

This weekend, we’re going to Maui and I’m really excited. This trip is going to be more relaxing than anything else. We also have plans to visit the Big Island in the beginning of December. I’ll keep you posted!


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STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: Keith Doucot, Kenny Ermann, and Daren Swenson

This entry marks the first in ASH’s “Student Spotlight” series, a set of interviews with current students in our program. One of the pleasures of meeting the students is appreciating the differences and similarities in their backgrounds and getting a glimpse of their life here in Honolulu.

Student Spotlight I

Daren Swenson, Kenny Ermann, Keith Doucot

Pristine campus, 3rd best college dining experience in the country, picturesque ocean front town, really nice dorms: University of Hawaii? Actually that’s how Keith Doucot, Kenny Ermann, and Daren Swenson describe their home college, Roger Williams University in Rhode Island. Yet they left all that behind to come to UH for a semester. Kenny found out about the ASH program on Facebook and invited his cohorts to come along. When asked how he persuaded them to apply, Daren and Keith agreed it didn’t take too much to convince them.

Kenny said the ASH program is a great way to experience one of the many diverse regions in the United States and a chance to enjoy a tropical climate. Last year he ventured to the deep south, to Valdosta, Georgia, with Habitat for Humanity, building homes and experiencing firsthand that famed Southern hospitality and cooking. Hawai‘i adds another dimension to his “See America” endeavor. French speaker and marketing major Daren has traveled more broadly, visiting France, Belgium, Austria, and the Caribbean. When asked why he decided to come to UH in the ASH program he replied, “Well…it’s Hawai‘i,” a statement that’s simple, but loaded with meaning. This semester is Keith’s very first foray out of New England (excluding a Disney World trip), and his eyes brightened up when asked about being away. His expression at that moment spoke more than his words.

These three guys have been in school at UH for 3 weeks, but their list of completed outings is already impressive:  picturesque Waimea Bay, secluded Halona Beach Cove, refreshing Wa‘ahila Ridge Trail, snorkeling at nearby Magic Island, the popular Honolulu Flea Market, a weekend trip to the island of Kauai, to name a few. Keith has already finished his scuba diving certification, and Daren and Kenny plan to get certified later in the semester. They’ve also purchased season tickets to the Polynesian Cultural Center and are planning a trip to the Big Island in December.

But a semester in Hawai‘i is more than beaches and sunsets. These students do all the adventures, and they have part time jobs and take full class loads (or overloads). Keith explained that it was overwhelming to sift through the huge UH course catalog and decide what to take, but his diligence paid off. One of his classes, “The Ocean Economy”, a course not offered at Roger Williams, is specific and specialized, but satisfies requirements for both of his minors, sustainability and economics. Keith’s major is construction management. Kenny has loaded up with 18 credits (6 more than a full load), and his schedule of 6 classes also includes “The Ocean Economy”. Kenny explained how he’s learned about isolationism in an environment like Hawai‘i and its potential for sustainability. His major is also construction management with an interest in environmental sciences. Daren is cruising through senior year with classes in French, anthropology and photography. He’s also an RA at one of the residence halls and maintains a very high GPA. Whoever said young people are not what they used to be hasn’t met these guys. They are polite and motivated. They work hard, get out there, and crave to do more. “It’s all what you make it,” Kenny says, which seems pretty wise for someone just 19 years old.