Thursday, August 6, 2009

A Joyful Noise

Punana Leo o Maui - our Hawaiian language immersion preschool - is back in session. And that means back to school for me, too. For a couple of hours a week, I help out by taking a bit of pressure off the dedicated kumu (teachers) who, like teachers everywhere are overworked and underpaid. With 30 pre-schoolers, there's always something for a willing volunteer to do. Mostly I help get the schoolroom set up for lunch, help serve, and clean up the kitchen afterwards. Some days there's time to interact with the keiki (children) during a ha'awina (lesson) or a hana no'eau (arts & craft) project. Since all communication is in Hawaiian and my Hawaiian language skills are at roughly the same level as these three, four, and five-year-olds, works out just fine. My own skills do actually improve over the school year - if only slightly - since I have to talk to teachers and staff, too. It is thrilling to to watch as these babies absorb Hawaiian language - and Hawaiian ways - like little sponges. It is the way that this culture is perpetuated. And the biggest reward is doing something - a very small something though it may be - for my community. We are all busy, too busy. We are all dealing with our own personal, daily crises - economic and otherwise. And there is always someone or someones or something with greater needs than our own. There's a preschool - or a health clinic or a group home or a hospice or a food bank or a something - in your neighborhood that needs you. Please go find it and spend even ONE hour a week helping out. Yes you can.

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