Halau Hula O Maiki

As I came to teach more and more, she was allowing me to work on my teaching skills, slowly. I didn't know how to translate Hawaiian Language before but I had some vocabulary so I'd write the Hawaiian on the board and say, "This word means this..." Sometimes I would come upon a word and think, 'well, I think this is what it means and I'd say it. And from the back of the room, my mother would put her head up over the counter so I could see and she'd be shaking her head, and I'd say, "Well sometimes it has other meanings," and I would keep going, trying to understand the word from the context, and when I hit it, she'd nod her head and go back to writing. So that is how I improved my Hawaiian. So really, my Hawaiian language comes from the many songs of hula, and then later going to Hawaiian language class at the University. But even at that point, the Hawaiian they were teaching and the Hawaiian of my grand aunts and other hula people were not alike in their phrasing and intensity. And I think later, I realized that it was because they (the hula community) were speaking Hawaiian poetical language and that's how they spoke and what they were teaching at UH was very conversational and very day-to-day, matter of fact and they never talked in a very poetic way.

So my dance repertoire came from my mother, and she has really been my only hula teacher. And the language come from trying to understand what it meant. And it was my mother, again, who taught me about teaching.

I have learned that with every person, there is value. We don't know what it is but when they are born, there are given spirit, value. So, most importantly, what I learned about teaching is to be humble about your own self. Before, in the early 70's, when I was dancing, I prided myself on being so capable, but then you don't realize that's only one part of who you are and being very talented and capable is not enough because you need to be those things in relation to the entire world, not just your world. When you align yourself with the entire world, you realize that you make barely a dent, and that you're here for a very short period and then you begin to live everyday as if it is your last.

I don't even know when my thinking and attitude changed. It was just happening slowly. It wasn't even a big upheaval. I know it happened bit by bit, learning the culture, learning the language, learning the poetry, having my mother reconfirm who I was. She always said, "You know, people are like flowers, there are some that bloom so quickly, and others that take many years." But she always made you feel that whatever you did was good and when it was not good, she told you but she didn't say you were bad. Inheriting the halau and being responsible for the halau, I think for a long time those kupuna already knew and they were just waiting until I was ready.

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