An Unexpected Blessing

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Photo: Pūʻali Camba Kaniaupio

By Pūʻali Camba-Kaniaupio, Grade 12, Ke Ana Laʻahana PCS

Aloha, ʻo Pūʻali Camba-Kaniaupio koʻu inoa. Aia wau ma ka papa ʻumikūmālua ma ke kula hoʻamana o Ke Ana Laʻahana. I am Pūʻali Camba-Kaniaupio and a senior attending Ke Ana Laʻahana Public Charter School.

The year of 2020 has blessed me in a way that I did not expect, however it did take some getting used to.

Since March 2020, our state has had to make major adjustments to everyday life due to the affects of this pandemic, COVID-19. Although, there has been a lot of grief that COVID-19 has brought upon many of our communities, ʻohana, businesses and schools, it has also forced some to make positive choices to be safe and stay healthy.

Hawaiʻi has been forced to find creative ways to stay afloat. For example, residents receiving unemployment benefits due to the pandemic also received a prepaid restaurant card that could be used at local restaurants. This not only helped families, it helped support our culinary businesses. And parents whose children qualified for free or reduced lunch from their respective schools also received additional SNAP benefits or Pandemic-EBT benefits.

My senior year has honestly impacted me in both positive and negative ways. Based on stories shared by my parents and older sisters, your senior year of high school is where a lot of your “best” memories come from, so they tell me.

I don’t have the chance to build memories with new haumāna, but I get to treasure the memories made with old friends. I’m not able to get that face-to-face help in classes that I was used to, but I am learning to utilize the tools of virtual learning.

These changes have taught me about kuleana. Kuleana for myself, my ʻohana, my community, and my kula. Because of the limited distractions at home, I was able to get the highest GPA I’ve ever received in school.

“To recognize, nurture, and foster cultural identity and cultural awareness in an environment that has historical connections and lineal linkage to students. Students engage in critical thinking and demonstrate complete mastery of the academia for their future as a result of this educational program that is driven by family, community, and culture.” This is the mission of our school.

This time of change has given me a better understanding of our school mission.

Prior to this crisis, I did the bare minimum both at home and in school. I have since grown to become a more responsible, independent individual. For example, I try my best to help my parents and my older sister, who are essential workers, by “baby-sitting” my younger sister and my niece.

It was challenging at first, transitioning to “virtual learning” but I had to make sure that my niece was done brushing her teeth, dressed, and eating breakfast all before our morning Piko at 7:45 a.m. In addition to this, I had to prepare my younger sister for her school day that begins at 8:00 a.m.

These responsibilities or kuleana have helped me, not only as a teenager in helping my family out, but also help me to prepare for the reality of adult life.