BUILDING YOUR BOAT
Students reflect on and identify their core values and what is most important to them.
KEY WAYFINDER TRAIT: Known for Integrity
ESTIMATED TOTAL TIME: ~ 75 minutes
MATERIALS NEEDED: Scissors
A big piece of self-awareness is starting to understand your core values and beliefs, and learning how to act in accordance with them. We think an apt metaphor for the role of values in one’s personal voyage is the boat that is carrying you and supporting you on your journey. You have to think carefully about what type of vessel you want to travel in, what it’s made of, and how it’s constructed if you want to get very far. In this activity, students will think about the basic building blocks of their own personal values boats. What values sustain them? What values do they aspire to, and want live more by?
We were inspired by a particular story in the history of the Polynesian Voyaging Society, when in 1990 they decided to build a canoe made of traditional materials and using traditional construction methods. They had already built performance-replica canoes, but wanted one that honored the heritage of canoe construction - the way certain native natural materials were used, and the way it uniquely brought a community together to build one. As you will read in the story, the search to find native koa trees to use as wood for the canoe led Nainoa Thompson and others to very deeply reflect on their values. It’s a beautiful story, and we think it really underscores the importance of taking the time to listen, reflect, and act in accordance with the values that one seeks to live by.
The more straightforward part of the activity is the identifying and naming of important values. The second and more interesting part is then exploring how they interact with each other. The physical model of the boat, along with the individual wood pieces, allow several options to explore these questions.
Media and Story resources
- PVS archive page “Sacred Forests: The Story of the Logs for the Hulls of Hawai‘iloa” that explains the story of of the search to find materials to build a traditionally-sourced and constructed voyaging canoe. Also see PVS archive page “The Building of Hawai’iloa”
- The short film He Waʻa He Moku He Moku He Waʻa was produced in a partnership with Polynesian Voyaging Society, The Nature Conservancy and Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument and World Heritage Site. The goal of this film is to help introduce waʻa (canoe) values to students and teachers in Hawaiʻi. The title, translated in English, means: The Canoe is an Island and the Island is a Canoe. The 8 short video clips cover the following values (please note that the English “translations” are rough -- we don’t necessarily have the right words to fully capture the richness of each value):
- Malama (to steward, take care of, serve and honor)
- Laulima (cooperation, or many hands)
- Kuleana (the responsibility that comes with privilege)
- ‘Imi ’Iki (seeking out new knowledge)
- Aloha (love for one another, giving without expecting anything back)
- Na’au Pono (doing the right thing)
- Olakino Maika’i (taking care of yourself)
- Lokomaika’i (sharing with others)