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HONOLULU (July 6, 2007)—The Polynesian Voyaging Society’s (PVS) traditional sailing vessel the Hōkūle' a recently completed her historic voyage from Hawai‘i to Micronesia and Japan. Throughout the 9,570-mile journey the Hōkūle' a crew had a large group of school children along for the ride … a virtual ride.

The Hōkūle' a Education Program, based at the East-West Center (EWC) and coordinated by the EWC’s Asia Pacific Leadership Program (APLP), gathered a crew of young students from almost 100 schools throughout the Asia Pacific region to virtually ride along with the Hōkūle' a . Using the internet to track the vessel’s progress, satellite telephone hook-ups to allow the students to talk directly to crew members at sea, tours of the Hōkūle' a at its ports-of-call, and visits to local schools by the vessel’s crew members, the program afforded the students a chance to take part in this remarkable voyage.

That traditional navigator and president of the PVS Nainoa Thompson turned to the APLP to help build this educational program was not surprising. The East-West Center has a long history with the Hōkūle' a and the PVS dating back to the 1970s. The EWC granted fellowships to five of the PVS’s founding members to make possible the building of the Hōkūle' a , as well as preparations for her maiden voyage to Tahiti in 1976. Thompson invited the APLP to help coordinate the new program to “draw upon its network of alumni in the region who are dedicated to ‘navigating change’.”

Thompson’s vision was to build a values-based educational program that would help extend and sustain the impact of the Hōkūle' a voyage throughout the region, connecting school children with the vessel and with each other. This is an effort, according to APLP program coordinator Nicholas Barker, “to foster a values-based community committed to creating a more sustainable world, promoting peace, and catalyzing positive social change.”

The Hōkūle' a education team coordinated a variety of education-related activities, including developing online curriculum, disseminating tracking maps of the voyage to the classrooms throughout the region and helped connect schools around the world with each other through school profiles and “e-pal” relationships using the Hōkūle' a education website. Two APLP team members, Paulina Yourupi from Chuuk in the Federated States of Micronesia and Kyoko Ikeda of Japan, sailed aboard the Hōkūle' a during her long voyage to give the APLP an on-site presence.

Some of the student virtual voyagers earned more than their sea legs by participating in the program. Those between the ages of 14 and 18 in some seven countries, including Bhutan, Indonesia, Vietnam, and India, also took part in the program’s VALUES FOR LIFE International Essay Contest sponsored by the Honolulu-based Nisei Veterans Endowed Forum Series. Four of the contest winners set sail for Honolulu in July to attend the Pacific Educational Conference, hosted by the Hawai‘i Department of Education. An experience the APLP’s Barker characterizes as “the first international gathering of children who have not actually had direct contact with the traditional sailing vessel or her crew, but who have been inspired by the hope and possibilities of a better future that the Hōkūle' a uniquely symbolizes.”


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Dr. Nicholas Barker may be reached at + (808) 944-7591 or via email at [email protected]  Nainoa Thompson may be reached through the Polynesian Voyaging Society at + (808) 536-8405.

Editors Please Note that camera-ready graphics are available upon request.

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