Aloha Greenheart

By: Amelie Blaschke, AYP Exchange Student and Greenheart Spring Break Participant

Hawaii — Everybody knows it, everybody dreams about it. And a few exchange students from all over the world had the chance to see and experience the Island Oahu for ten days.

Aloha! I was one of those 19 lucky kids. My name is Amelie and I’m from Germany. Since July 2011 I’ve lived in Kentucky and I love my life here. When I heard I was accepted in the Hawaii program, I was so excited and couldn’t wait to leave in March. To go to Hawaii was definitely on my unwritten bucket list and the long flight there was worth it!

We stayed in the camp Mokuleia on the Northern Shore of Oahu for ten days. All together we were 19 exchange students from Brazil, Spain, Poland, Hungary, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Italy and the US.  And our two chaperones Molly and Andrea from Chicago were amazing!  That was alot of culture for one little cabin on the beach and I absolutely loved to hear about different life styles and experiences. Everybody was so nice and we connected quickly as a group. We had so much fun together and the days of goodbye were really hard.

In our ten days of Hawaii we wanted to see as much of the island as possible. Our schedule was pretty packed: Hiking, swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, surfing, zip lining, taking a catamaran cruise, visit different beaches, shopping… I was looking forward to surf and to see Pearl Harbor. And both things were amazing! Let me tell you about it.

On our third day in Hawaii, we had our surfing lesson. Everybody was pumped when we carried the surf boards down to the beach. We had three teachers who showed us how to lay on a surf board, paddle and stand up the right way. All that in the dry sand at the beach first. Then the first couple people went in the water and we watched the first boys and girls getting up and riding on on a wave for a couple seconds. It looked really easy but as soon as I got in the water, I realized how hard the paddling was and how much strength you need in your arms. You needed patience to wait for a good wave. And when there finally was a good one, you had to be fast with your paddling and the getting up part wasn’t easy at all! But after a couple not so successful tries, I caught a wave and stood up on my board and rode that wave for maybe a couple seconds. That feeling was amazing and alone for that, the trip was worth it! (Eventhough we all had sore arms and legs the next day).

Day 5 in Hawaii was one of my very favorites. We went to visit Pearl Harbor and it was a very special place. Pearl Harbor is a very important part of the Hawaiian and American history. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in the time of World War II was the biggest reason for the USA to join the war. We actually met 5 survivors of the attack and we talked to them and asked them questions about their experiences. They were so nice and it was really interesting to hear about the attack from witnesses. Then we went out on a boat to visit the Arizona Memorial. More than a thousand people died on that battleship. And the memorial is built above the ship what was never repaired and is today still laying on the ground. It is the grave of a lot of soldiers who died on the Arizona. The place was really sad and taught me a lot about American history.

Students meeting Pearl Harbor survivors

The Hawaii group at Pearl Harbor

Every evening we had Greenheart Workshops with Andrea and Molly in a really nice room at the camp. We learned about the environment, political issues and about each other’s home countries. We had fun as a group learning about Greenheart and the idea of volunteering.

And we volunteered in Hawaii a couple times ourselves. We helped ripping out unwanted plants on the Ka’ala Farm and planting and weeding in the little garden of the camp Mokuleia. Also we volunteered at the Paepae o He’eia Fishpond and helped out the people over there. On all these places we learned more about the traditional Hawaiian culture. Volunteering was a lot of fun and we made new friends at those places. Sometimes we got really dirty and wet but I really enjoyed it!

All our activities were so much fun and the days we were just taking a sun bath on the beach were relaxing and just great. The Hawaiian water is beautiful and so warm. The Catamaran Cruise and our stay at Waikiki Beach were amazing and the view from a mountain after a long hike is breath taking!

I couldn’t describe how happy I am that I had the chance to go to Hawaii. It was absolutely awesome and I hope that I can go back there one day. Hawaiian culture is unique and the environment there is amazing.

So I want to say Mahalo (what means Thanks in Hawaiian language) to Hawaii, Camp Mokuleia, Greenheart and CCI for making our trip to Oahu so unforgettable! Mahalo to Andrea and Molly who were amazing chaperones. Mahalo to all the exchange students who attended the trip and made those ten days so, so precious. We all made a lot of new friends and we are still in touch. Some friendships may hold for a life time!

Amelie (right) at the Polynesian Cultural Center

So, if you are a CCI/Greenheart Exchange Student and you have the possibility to attend the trip to Hawaii: DO IT!! You won’t be disappointed, you’ll make new friends and you get to know a completely different and fantastic part of the US not even all Americans ever get to know! It’s totally worth it!