In January 2019, ILI Partner PAʻI Foundation hosted the second of three place-based intensives for ILI Fellows in Hawaiʻi. The five-day leadership immersion brought together the second cohort of ILI Fellows for shared learning, personal exchange and direct experience with the true history and sacred places in Native Hawaiʻi.
“When we share our traditions, we keep them alive for future generations,” said PAʻI Foundation Executive Director Vicky Holt-Takamine. “That is what our work is all about at the PAʻI Foundation and so it was important that we extended that out to the ILI Fellow cohort as we hosted their second intensive together.”
Each part of the Hawaiʻi intensive was designed to help the ILI Fellows cohort continue to ground their experience in the same four core topics addressed in the first ILI Lakota intensive: Who We Are, Where We Are, How We Work, Why We Matter. The difference in this second convening was a “deep-dive” into the specifically Native Hawaiian sense of place and people.
“We created a meaningful experience that introduced the ILI Fellows to very important parts of our Native Hawaiian life,” said Vicky. “From language, to food sovereignty to the most precious element of water - the cohort was able to be part of something they probably have never done before. Our hope was to share our unique type of Pacific Island culture and that they would carry the deep and beautiful experience home with them.”
“Interculturality is hard sometimes. When we share space to address oppression, everyone comes with their own personal story.”
One of the most important parts of this ILI intensive was the Hoʻoponopono - a Hawaiian healing mediation practice that was included to help the ILI Fellows transition from the last intensive to their present gathering. “Interculturality is hard sometimes,” said Vicky. “When we share space to address oppression, everyone comes with their own personal story. The first intensive was a time for people to just start that journey and it brought up understandable challenges. Hoʻoponopono is a sacred practice that we organized to help heal and prepare the group to dig into the work of the second time together.”
Holt-Takamine worked with host facilitator/culture bearer Mehanaokala Hind, the other ILI partners, ILI facilitators, and local ILI Fellows (and ILI Alum Kaʻiu lani Takamori) to create a fully immersive intensive.
“On Day One, we included a basic Hawaiian language primer,” said Kahōkū Lindsey-Asing, ILI Fellow and Site Coordinator of Pūnana Leo o Mānoa a Hawaiian language immersion preschool. “The pronunciation of Hawaiian language can be difficult for non-native speakers. By having an introduction, we hoped that everyone would have some level of comfort in hearing and speaking some basic words.”
Other activities included a visit to sustainable farms and food preparation that introduced ILI Fellows to revitalized Native Hawaiian traditions; paddling out to an island (and back!) for afternoon sessions on Hawaiian Political History; art museum tour and a cultural showcase at the end of the week that provided a stage for the ILI Fellow as artists and culture bearers to represent their work.
Guest presenters provided model perspectives on leadership and interculturality - as they did at ILI Lakota. Topics ranging from working interculturally to inclusion in the Moʻolelo Storytelling Festival by PAʻI Foundation artists gave the ILI Fellows a mix of theory, practice and performance.
“It was an honor to host the second intensive for the second ILI cohort,” Vicky said. “I’m sure that each person had their own unique and powerful experience. My hope is that every one of them took something important home in their hearts.”
ILI Partners (left to right): PA’I Foundation, Vicky Holt Takamine, Executive Director; Alternate ROOTS, Michelle Ramos, Executive Director; National Association of Latino Arts & Culture, María De Leon, President & CEO; First Peoples Fund, Lori Pourier, President; & Carlton Turner, now Founding Director of Sipp Culture. Photo: Melisa Cardona