As many of my housemates have emphasized in their blogs, some of the most prominent features of our program are Hawaiian culture (and that of Kaua’i specifically, which certainly has its very own unique culture), the environment, and the results of the recent flooding. But one additional thing I have been thinking about a lot that one fellow student, Beryl, brought up in a reflection time is the relationships we are forming and thinking about how those are formative within our lives.
I feel that this is an important thing not to neglect because interactions are a huge part of daily life here. Whether we are hanging out as a DukeEngage group, as we do during most of our downtime, or whether I am at work with my ‘āina team (in simple words, the team which works on the land and outdoors), I constantly feel closer and closer to the people around me, and I find myself thinking within these interactions about the future and what I am taking from these relationships.
I feel like in college I have learned a lot about being dynamic in my perception of relationships as it is such a quick moving time with a lot of temporary placements in summer terms and housing arrangements, a fairly big change from the consistency of previous years. Realistically, so many of these temporary interactions are happening that not all of the relationships will continue to be ones in which we keep talking every day or even every week no matter how strong our feelings of love and companionship are. And I feel like coming to terms with that idea has really been part of me becoming an adult.
So, to tie this back to this service trip, I really think that acknowledging that closeness doesn’t necessarily correlate to contact gives me comfort in not overthinking or being afraid of getting close to those around me. Though it certainly applies to my housemates as well, I find this to be especially important with the amazing group I am working with in the Waipa Foundation because sociality and work is so closely tied to culture and discovering what local priorities and areas of respect are. Additionally I think this line of thought encourages analysis and reflection on conversations and super great times to make the most of some of the coolest people I have had the pleasure to work with or live with and I hope to continue to know.