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All this and hula, too

Photo by Mark Puryear

Come to Anake Noe’s Lanai (Auntie Noe’s Porch) in the Campus and Community program of the festival for interactive demonstrations in an intimate and inviting (shaded) setting! One highlight of my visit to the University of Hawai‘i’s area was sitting on the lanai and learning how to make a yarn “finger lei” while chatting with four enthusiastic members of a 10-year-old non-profit from Oahu, MA‘O Organic Farms, which is working to foster leadership, cultural awareness, and educational aspiration for Hawaiian students who participate in running a working farm and benefit from a variety of programs, stipends, and scholarship opportunities.

With my neck proudly embellished with a mini-lei, I ventured from the lanai to the tent to learn more about the University of Hawai‘i through a mix of exhibits interspersed with live demos and hands-on activities showing the richness of local culture juxtaposed with modern scientific expertise. A quick drive-by yielded these impressions: drilling wood with a manual contraption that looks like the offspring of a spinning top and a crossbow; engaging in beekeeping as a viable growth industry; weaving ornamental objects and bracelets out of reeds; touching a living taro plant. I was soon engrossed in a fascinating demonstration of ocean navigation using a deep knowledge of stars divided by quadrants of the sky and the direction of swells relative to one’s canoe. The navigator modestly admitted to learning the positions of over 200 stars as part of her training in this ancient art. Imagine navigating across the ocean without GPS! This demo brought to life a remarkable blend of mathematical precision and experiential intelligence.

You can catch performances and demonstrations by the University of Hawai‘i participants in the tents on the Jefferson Drive-side of the National Mall. They are also presenting dance performances on the Justin S. Morrill Performing Arts Center stage several times a day. See the performance schedule.

Click on photos to enlarge.

Somi Kim is a D.C. native and has fond memories of visiting the Festival as a child; she now works in New York.

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