Last weekend, I was fortunate enough to attend the 2024 Summer Arts Education Institute hosted by the Maui Arts & Cultural Center (MACC) with a focus on Arts & Healing. Participants included teaching artists and classroom teachers from across the state as well as panelists from as far away as Scotland and Aotearoa.

It can be intimidating to enter a new space filled with creative people. Before the weekend began, we were invited to prepare a hoʻolauna, or an introduction of who we are. I found the process beautifully presented with a template provided in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi and English, and versions that were either place-based or ancestral in their wording. Modeled by our MACC facilitators, and for the purposes of this institute, your own hoʻolauna could be one version or pieces of both stitched together and made wholly unique to you.

This is work I value. And I got stuck. I was so nervous about having to both write and share my own that I hindered my process in creating it. It felt scary to create a definition of myself and as I started to write, I questioned each line and worried about exactly what to include or how much to share.

Once the first day began, I was swept into the experience created by MACC and pressed pause on my hoʻolauna worries. Over the three-day institute, we engaged in workshops that pushed us outside of our comfort zones (embracing our inner clowns included), challenged us to dig deeply within ourselves, and provided us with a tangible toolkit of what healing can look like through a variety of art forms. 

Modeling the way, each facilitator and cultural practitioner created immersive experiences for participants, engaging us through stories, drumming, expressive movement, moʻolelo, visual arts, ʻāina-based practices, music and more. We spent time in nature including visits to the ʻĪao Valley, Kepaniwai Park, and the Maui Nui Botanical Gardens. The time together felt authentic, rejuvenating and hopeful.

In the final workshop on the very last day, as if by fate, my group went to the session about hoʻolauna. We had the chance to create a visual representation of it and, perhaps, share it with others. When I revisited mine that day, I took a few minutes to rewrite the lines on a clean piece of paper. As I reread it, the words sat more comfortably with me. They are me, they are connected to me and this hoʻolauna became my own. 

The events of the three days softened my worry and realigned the pieces of myself that showed up that first morning. I’m not sure I consciously knew that I needed healing but through a few days of time connecting in well-supported, creative spaces, it happened all the same. 

It will take more time for me to sift through and let sink in all the experiences of those few days. Turns out, after all that worry, I never ended up sharing my own hoʻolauna aloud. So, harnessing that feisty spirit of courage, I will share it with you here and, of course, encourage you to write your own.

ʻO Cynthia koʻu inoa
ʻO Hualālai koʻu mauna
ʻO La’aloa koʻu kahakai
ʻO ʻeka koʻu makani
ʻO apo pue kahi koʻu ua
I am Cynthia
I am the little blue house on Bowling Green Way
I am Jinna & Russell, Buddy & Dickie, Becky & Steve
I am stories read aloud and sneezes that shake the windows
I am Keauhou and Kamakahonu waters, the Colorado River, and Sebago Lake
I am sailing and singalongs, miniatures and tea parties
I am continuously seeking connection to land, sea, and place through stories and lived experiences of our shared humanity

Write Your Hoʻolauna

These resources were created for classroom teachers by the Education Department at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center.

Share Your Hoʻolauna

I invite you to share your hoʻolauna aloud with someone. Should you want to share with me, I’d love to read it. Please email me or stop by the Mill to connect in person.