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Honesty time: I’ve been putting off writing this blog post because I truly don’t know how to begin talking about this experience. I almost feel as if I’m not ready to reflect on it because taking the time to look back at the past four weeks (how has it been four weeks???) feels like missing out on what’s happening in this moment, even though I know that’s not true.

Already this has been one of the best summers of my life.

Coming into this program I knew that I should expect to stretch the boundaries of my comfort zone, and that growth has been one of my favorite parts of this experience. There’s something so invigoratingly pleasant about doubting yourself, trying anyway, and learning that your limits are a lot higher than you thought they were. The challenges I’ve encountered have been both expected and surprising. Working at Waipā means doing the physically challenging tasks necessary to keep a farm running, which can be equal parts exhausting and rewarding.

But there are other unexpected challenges that I’ve had to navigate as well. Things like living in a very expensive place on a very tight budget, learning how to effectively communicate and live with nine virtual strangers, and even coming up with things to pack for lunch. After two straight weeks of PB&Js I finally broke down and texted my mom for more ideas (she had some great ones, so thanks, Mom!).

Being in this space, having the chance to work at Waipā with such incredible people has been humbling. I’m overwhelmed by the energy and beauty of Kaua’i, and I’ve had so many transformative and self-reflective conversations that I feel like I’m no longer sure of who I am or who I want to be. I expected to grow from this experience, but I’m surprised at all the different directions in which that growth has manifested.


Pictures from the first few weeks:

This was day one! Eagerly waiting to meet Maka’ala for the first time. Rarely have I met someone with such presence. It sounds cliche but I was truly spellbound by her energy and love for Hanalei. She’s a powerful, special woman.


More from the first day. After meeting Maka’ala, Rebecca brought us to Hanalei Bay to show us   the lingering devastation from the flood, and to explain some of the countless unseen impacts. Spending so much time in a community struggling to recover is surreal when paired with the constant influx of tourists. Watching vacationers interact with the land and the people has made me think a lot about my privilege and the impact of my presence in any given space.


One of the insane sunsets from our living room window.


This is one of my very favorite pictures. It perfectly captures life at Waipā: beautiful and natural, but productive and purposeful.


This day was so fun!!! But SO hard. I was super sore from work the day before, and the whole first leg of the kayak trip involved several miles of paddling against the strong river current. The views were worth it ten times over, though. Plus, any day spent near the water is an incredible day in my book.


Group meal at sunset! Rebecca and Alice prepared an amazing spread, and we ate atop a cliff as the sun set right behind us. Eating and cooking dinner together every night has been really special.