Friday, April 8, 2011

Why Hawai'i Needs Writing Project

We are an island state in the middle of the ocean. When the wind shifts from tradewinds to southerly Kona winds, the whole state is covered in volcanic haze. When there is a threatened dock strike, every roll of toilet paper, from Kauai to Ka'u is whisked off the shelves by customers envisioning a cut off of all our supplies. As a small state, one community's suffering is all our suffering. 

If you look at our students and our schools in a clinical, statistical way, we are labeled as "less than," "deficient," "not meeting." We are a majority of minorities. We are a marginalized people. But look closer.  We are a rich quilt of ethnicities. We are a mirror for a better world. We each possess voices that need to be heard. In our hearts we contain old knowledge that hold answers for these times. In our na'au, our gut, we are centered to the teachings of the world.

Hawaii needs Writing Project (National Writing Project, Hawaii Writing Project, Lehua Writing Project) because this is a network of teachers that understands and values the knowledge of our people.

This is a network that uplifts the marginalized people and gives them a voice, even while others try to take that voice away.

This is a network of educators and community supporters that understands that all our answers are already within us. We don't have to worry if the planes aren't flying or the ships aren't coming in. Writing Project shows us that we have everything we need right in our own backyard.

We need Writing Project because they understand that literacy is the bridge to freedom from oppression, from colonization, from conformity.

We need Writing Project because they adamantly believe that the quality of the student comes from the quality of the teacher. I'm sure the National Writing Project leaders don't know the following Hawaiian proverb, but they live it - and that's what Hawaii needs - an educational support group that can help us to bring out the mana, the power, that already resides in us, so that we can pass that mana onto our own students.

I maika‘i ke kalo i ka ‘ōhā. The goodness of the taro is judged by the young plant it produces.

One voice is not enough. NWP bloggers have been blogging about their own thoughts on the power of NWP as well as their outrage that our government is not supporting national literacy programs like National Writing Project. If you want to read more blogs, go to the #blog4nwp archives. 

Tell us about your experience with Writing Project by posting your own blog or commenting on this one.

Always remember, you are not alone. ‘A‘ohe hana nui ke alu ‘ia. No task is too big when done together by all.

Cathy Ikeda

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