Day 7 (Tuesday, May 10th, Post Author – Mati Thompson): Participant Observation Experience: Chinese Herbology

Today we met with our complementary/alternative medicine (CAM) practitioners. My group (Emily Kleffman, Ben Knupp, Olivia Shell, Samantha Wilcox) investigated Chinese Herbology, and we met with Dr. Low at the Institute of Clinical Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine in Chinatown!

Note added by Dr. Kerr Other modalities investigated this year included:

Aromatherapy with Karlel ‘Ewalani Crowley (Love My Oils!): Mia Davis, Airi Hounsve, Mckinlee Miller, Ally Ruff & Lily Summers)

Reiki with Jaquelyn Otto (Honolulu Reiki): Julia Bauer, Stacy Buchner, Ambria May, Kennedy Meloy & Elizabeth Mudiandambo)

Ho’noponopono with Francine Dudoit-Tagupa (Native Hawaiian Practitioner at Waikiki Health Center): Morgan Drath, Maddie Novotny, Margaret Pavlik, Alex Peterson & Gabby Tsarouhis

Naturopathic Medicine (Dr. Laurie Steelsmith, Steelsmith Natural Health Center): Jake Garcia, Duke Harms, Sophia Lesman & Shannon Murphy

Before visiting Dr. Low, we visited a restaurant in Chinatown where we enjoyed honey lemon tea, coke with lime, and condensed milk toast.

When we arrived at the Institute, Dr. Low showed us a stock room full of the herbs that he prescribes to his patients. We were able to try an herb called Gan Cao, better known as “Chinese licorice”, which we learned tones the Spleen, augments Qi, expels phlegm, stops cough, and resolves toxicity. Dr. Low explained that some herbs are quite difficult to attain and they can even be more valuable than gold! He stressed the importance of just how powerful these herbs can be and how patients should consult with Western medicine practitioners about which herbs they are consuming, especially before surgery. He showed us a document that Queen’s North Hawaii Community Hospital sends to patients before surgery to avoid adverse interactions between medications and Chinese herbs.

After visiting Dr. Low, some of the group decided to explore Chinatown and visited a few of the grocery stores. In one store, I was able to find a few herbal drinks and candy which related to what we had just learned with Dr. Low!

After returning to the hotel, I met up with some classmates at the beach and tried an ice cream treat made out of bananas called “Banan”! I am dairy free so finding this delicious alternative to ice cream was super exciting!

After the beach, Lily, Olivia, and I decided to go to the Cheesecake Factory for dinner. After dinner we went shopping and stumbled across an amazing street performer! We stood and listened to him play guitar for an hour and a half! When I returned to the hotel, my roommates shared about their participant observation experiences! I was excited to hear that they also had very positive experiences with their CAM practitioners. I am glad we were able to experience these different modalities, and maybe one day incorporate them into our own practice as healthcare professionals!

Lily Summers, Olivia Shell, Mati Thompson
Street Performer in Waikiki

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Day 6: Diamond Head, Beach, and the Keauhou Emergency Shelter

Some of the students and Dr. Hopkins made the decision to get up bright and early to hike Diamond Head. We started hiking at 7:30 A.M. in efforts to miss the heat but we sadly did not. ): The hiking trail was a little bumpy and difficult as you went up an incline towards the top of the monument. On the way up, we were greeted with striking coastal views. Once we got back down to the bottom of the park, we indulged in some sweets. I had the acai bowl which was delicious! After hiking Diamond Head, some of the students planned to go to the beach to enjoy the sun and ocean for a little bit before our tour of the Keauhou Emergency Shelter.

Once it was noon, our class waited for public transportation to head out to the Keauhou Emergency Shelter. Upon arriving to town, we were greeted with a different atmosphere than Waikiki. We saw tents lined up on the sidewalk owned by homeless people. During our tour of the Keauhou Emergency Shelter, we learned that they offer and encourage health and wellness to their residents as they have access to free health and dental services across the street. They also have around 20 dogs living there! The Keauhou Emergency Shelter also helps homeless people find permanent housing and jobs. The average time someone stays at the shelter is about three months. After our tour, our class headed back to Waikiki and went on their own way. Some students went to the beach, some went shopping, and some went to go get dinner!

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Day 5: Breakfast, Udon, Group Discussion, Japanese Gardens, & Beach/Hiking

We got the morning off today due to our late night at the Polynesian Cultural Center the previous night. Some students took advantage to head to the beach early, grab breakfast/coffee/boba, or even to catch up on sleep. For me, I grabbed 2 mochi malasadas and an iced matcha to eat/drink on the beach. The sun was even out this morning for a little! Then, the clouds rolled in 🙁 After sitting on the beach for a while, a classmate and I went to an ABC Store to grab some supplies for the day.

For our class activities, we went to Marukame Udon. This place was so cool! We got to see the udon noodles being made from scratch and then plated for us to eat. It also had some tempura and musubi sides to order. There was a long line out the door to order our food though, but we only had to wait about 30 minutes.

After filling up on udon, our class headed back to our hotel and waited to take the bus to our next destination. We took public transportation to the Japanese Gardens at University of Hawaii at Manoa. There, we had our group discussion about the Japanese Americans in Hawaii with a focus on health, birth, and death. The discussion was very eye opening for many. For example, we discussed who we wanted to be present with us when we died or if we wanted to be alone. We also talked about the differences in Japanese Americans based on the generation they grew up in and how, as healthcare workers, we can better help and provide them holistic care in the United States. During class, Mother Nature seemed to disagree with us at some points. Koi fish were jumping out of the pond and splashing. It began to rain at one point. Also, a kukui nut pod even fell on top of one of the presenters’ heads during our discussion.

After class, we headed back to the bus. Some of our classmates hit the beaches. Others went to dinner. As for me and another classmate, my cousin picked us up to go hiking. Luckily, my cousin lives on the island and has taken us to some great places. Today, he took us to Manoa Falls. It was absolutely gorgeous despite the gloomy weather. I think that the clouds and gloom actually made the jungle look even prettier. I won’t say much more about the topic because I think the pictures do all the talking!

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Trip to the Polynesian Cultural Center!

Going into the day, I knew it was going to be a day full of lots of fun! We started off the day on the bus to the PCC. It was 57 miles away from our hotel, so it led to lots of sightseeing of the island. Our group was given leis which was a great welcome to the park and all the cultural presentations.

Once we made it to the center, it was time for lunch. There were plenty of options from food trucks! I decided to get shrimp tacos with rice…which was gone within minutes (just that good!). We also looked around the Hukilau Marketplace, where we bought some bracelets.

We took a 30-minute tram ride through the town of Laie right outside the PCC and were able to view BYU and the Temple of the Church of the Latter-day Saints. I’ve really enjoyed seeing different neighborhoods around the island, and Laie had beautiful architecture.

After, we enter the “Islands” — where the five cultures (Samoa, Tonga, Aotearoa, Fiji, Hawaii, Tahiti) were presenting cultural traditions & practices. Before attending these, we all went on a canoe ride touring all islands. Our canoe driver Evan, as well as many other workers at the center are students at BYU – Hawaii. The proceeds from the PCC fund scholarships for students at BYU! Tahiti was the first island we visited, where we watched a traditional Tahitian wedding. It was beautiful to watch, especially because couples in the audience were able to renew their vows. We also watched the Tongan presentation showcasing Tongan drumming, sitting dance, and “other sounds of respect.”

Dinner and the luau began at 5:00 pm and we were welcomed with pineapple smoothies! From there, many more delicious foods were at the buffet waiting for us. Salads, poke, various types of meat, fruit, and my favorite — the taro rolls. The main attraction was the roasted pig, which was brought around all the tables for everyone’s viewing. While we ate, we viewed the beautiful luau and the tribute to Queen Lili’uokalani and her compositions.

Our last stop was the Ha: Breathe of Life performance in Pacific Theater. The show was fantastic. It details a story of birth, death, family and love across the five islands. With traditional dances, a jaw-dropping performance with fire, and a story heart-warming to all, this show was the highlight of the day to me. The smiles on the performers’ faces as they perform were infectious.

At the end of the long day, we boarded the bus back to the hotel knowing we gained an experience of a lifetime…

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