By Teron Kailimana Pacheco, Grade 6
My story of the experiences in my life that changed my thinking about ʻohana, kula and aloha ʻāina since the COVID-19 pandemic started last March seems simple.
The impacts on my ʻohana have ranged from little to none, all the way to major and life changing. The changes for my education, made by our poʻo and kumu, ensure that the kula provides educational opportunities in English and ʻōlelo Kanaka. Aloha ʻĀina has turned from a few who know, into an idea that many seek to define.
COVID-19 is changing the way we think about our ʻohana, noʻeau and ʻāina.
My ʻohana is a big thing that includes kūpuna, mākua, hoahānau and hoa aloha. For our kūpuna, life was filled with freedom to travel, visit, tell moʻolelo, and share noʻeau while helping to strengthen our ʻohana, but now is filled with isolation, difficulty with securing food and sometimes fear, as COVID-19 can hurt them the most.
For our mākua, the island economy has changed the number and types of jobs. My mom, working for a car rental company, became unemployed; my dad, who had a good paying job, is now serving the National Guard protecting us all from COVID-19 by enforcing the new rules.
For my hoahānau and hoa aloha, we could play and be friendly but now must wear masks and practice social distancing.
COVID-19 has changed us all.
When COVID-19 caused the kula to stop face-to-face teaching, our poʻo and kumu reacted quickly to make sure we could still have the opportunity to be educated. These school leaders continued our learning opportunity that finished off last year by providing core learning packets weekly with timely corrections for our submitted work.
We were missing our connection to the physical kula and ʻōlelo Kanaka. So they figured out how to safely open our school for face-to-face learning by helping us to be aware of COVID-19, making sure that we follow safety rules, and having daily temperature checks with questions that help us decide if we have been exposed to COVID-19. All of these checks have allowed us to form “ʻohana bubbles” and a somewhat normal return to school.
I was so surprised when the staff at the school stopped by with fruits and vegetables every week from May to September. I got to help with the distribution of the food (a form of aloha ʻāina) when we came back to school. It was hard work even when we got to help the poʻo and nā kumu with the food. These gifts were aloha ʻāina of many on Kauaʻi who helped many of us get through the rough times. I know if the COVID-19 pandemic continues, that Kauaʻi will help all of us through aloha ʻāina.
As for my ʻohana, we are closer. As for my kula, they provide me with education full of aloha. As for our ʻāina, we need to protect, nurture and use it with aloha that feeds us as a people. Until COVID-19 passes, be safe.
Teron Kailimana Pacheco is a sixth-grade student at Kula Aupuni Niʻihau A Kahelelani Aloha PCS on Kauaʻi.