By Founder and President Kurt Lieber
I had the pleasure recently of giving a presentation to some students at the Hawai’i Preparatory Academy (HPA). This is a very prestigious school on the big Island, and it seemed whomever I mentioned the acronym HPA to, they knew exactly what I was referring to.
Cynthia Ho, a friend of ODA’s who organizes beach cleanups with kids, had told the administrators at the school about ODA, and I soon received an invite from one of the teachers there, Laura Jim. She coordinated with two other teachers and had three science classes bussed to the schools Performing Arts Auditorium.
A Warm Hawaiian Welcome
As the kids sat down in the theatre, a young girl about 10 years old approached me, with a lei in her hands. When she tried to place it around my neck, well let’s just say there was a slight gap between the ends of her arms and my neck. I happened to be standing next to some steps that led up to the stage, so she climbed two stairs, placed it around my neck, and we exchanged hugs. Too cute, and I was touched by the hospitality.
She went back to her seat, and the entire group stood up and proceeded to sing a Hawaiian song to me. Oh my, it was just beautiful to my ears. This melodic welcome was a total surprise, and I was flush with emotions.
After they finished, I tried to compose myself, but it took a few moments.
The Next Generaion of Ocean Conservationists
I showed them a 40-minute video about ODA’s history, both in California and in Hawai’i. At the conclusion I took questions, and wow, were they ever inquisitive! I can always tell how well-received my talks are by the thoughts that people share afterwards. I can tell you, these kids were engaged! They had so many ideas that we could have gone on for another hour, but they had other classes to go to and we had to stop after our allotted time was over.
There were 60-70 kids in attendance, from the school’s 4th, 6th and 7th grades. They filed out and got on their busses.
As I was walking back to my car, I saw the busses roll by with dozens of smiling faces and hands waving a thank you to me. With those kids in our future, and I see nothing but optimism on the horizon…
Mahalo Nui to all!