About Kumu Noël

I teach the medical-surgical nursing courses offered across the junior year of the nursing program at Illinois Wesleyan University, and collaborate with Dr. Lisa Searing in teaching the Nursing Research course offered in the fall of the junior year. During the May Term, I teach Transcultural Healthcare in Hawaii or Abuse in America.

Wrapping up this fantastic adventure…

In response to student requests to try and create some additional free time before our return home, we flexed the plan for our schedule so that our final “class” was held in two parts; Monday evening from 7:00 – 9:00 pm, and then Tuesday morning from 9:00 – 11:00 am.  During each session, three pairs of students gave their presentations on the alternative or complementary healthcare modality they investigated for the course.

While in Lahaina, Kumu Lisa and I had both begun searching for something that we could give to each of the students as a personal memento of our time together over the past three weeks.  On Tuesday morning, after the final presentation was completed, Lisa and I took a few minutes to thank the group for making our first experience as travel course leaders such a wonderful experience…

We gathered in a circle, and presented each student with a Kikui nut lei.  In Hawai’i, the Kukui Nut tree is also known as the Candlenut tree.  Kikui nut oil has many cooking and medicinal uses, and in ancient times, the nuts were burned to provide light.  The meaning of kukui is a symbol of enlightenment, protection and peace.  When you present a kukui nut lei to someone, you express this meaning to them – and now, these lei are often presented at the end of a course of study, or graduation.

Everyone wore their Kikiu nut lei to the "Island Breeze" Luau at our hotel on Tuesday evening...

I love to travel, meet new people and learn about the intricacies of belief and cultural practice that influence interaction and decision-making.  It has been an honor, and a great joy to lead this course, and have the opportunity to get to know these exceptional young women as we’ve completed this journey together.

You may see additional posts from Kumu Lisa, but with this post, I am going to sign off, and begin my own transition back to the “mainland”…

Pu’ uhononua o Honaunau National Historical Park (City of Refuge)

Like the royal grounds (pictured above), the beach canoe landing was only for the chief, and his attendants; a wooden image in the water warned others of the kapu.

A massive stone wall, built around 1550 separates the royal grounds (home of the ali’i of the Kona district on the island of Hawai’i), from the pu’uhonua; a place of refuge for defeated warriors, noncombatants in time of war, and those who violated kapu, the sacred laws.

Beyond the Great Wall, on the ocean side, was a place that, if one could reach it, was open to all… The pu’uhonua is an area of sanctity in which blood could not be shed.  The sanctity was bestowed on the area because the bones of Keawe’ikekahiali’ iokamoku (great-grandfather of Kamehameha I), were placed in the temple there.

Kapu regulated everyday activities.  Women could not eat food reserved as offerings to the gods.  They could not prepare meals for men, or eat with them.  Seasons for fishing, killing animals, and gathering timber were strictly controlled.  If a kapu was broken, the penalty could mean death.  Otherwise, the gods might react with violence: volcanic eruptions, tidal waves, famine or earthquakes… To protect themselves from catastrophes, the people chased kapu breakers until they were caught – or until they made it to a pu’uhonua.  If they reached one of these sacred places, the kahuna pule (priest) performed a ceremony of absolution, and the offenders could return home safely.

Lunch at Punalu’u Bakery…

This bakery is located blocks away from South Point; a National Historic District Landmark area and the area that is renowned as the southernmost point in the United States (and the likely place where the first Polynesians reached the Hawaiian Islands).

We ate lunch, and several students enjoyed the bakeries famous Malasadas… The picture of Sarah Walding below captures the bliss those malasadas brought on… as she stated “If I get Type II diabetes, it will be because of these things!”

Black Sand Beach

The last stop before lunch was the Black Sand Beach… the sand is very soft, and a rich carbon color.

The coast line here has many jetties of solidified lava flow, which provides a beautiful contrast to the deep blue water…

Sarah W., Jillian C., Kristen C. & Allison H.

and many nooks and crannies for these wonderful creatures to grab a quick meal of seaweed, and crabs!

The road to Kona…

was choc-full of sites and experiences.  On Monday, May 21st (Day 20 of the trip BTW), we checked out of the Naniloa early in the morning, and boarded a full-size Roberts tour bus; a much smoother, and quieter ride than the vans we have traveled in so far.

In the next few posts we’ll give you a peek at some of the wonderful things the group did and saw… But for now, we’ll write about a few of the day’s highlights.

First stop was the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Farm.  The processing facility was closed down for maintenance, so this was a shopping stop.  We “think” that most students will refrain from eating all the product they purchased, so you MAY get to sample some of these treats when your daughter gets home! (This morning, Tara C. was observed eating her improvement on Reeses PB cups… Chocolate-covered macadamia nuts dipped directly into a Skippy jar…!).

Next, we pulled into the Akatsuka Orchid Farm.  This business is run by a Japanese family that raises a phethora of types of orchids, and will ship anywhere in the world.  They even grow varieties that smell like chocolate, and coconut.  An FYI for my husband, Stephen… I found out that “Cattelya” (pronounced KAT-lee-ya) is the name of a variety of orchid… so, the next time you are at the restaurant at the Grand Palace in Tokyo, look to see if they have orchids as decorations (!).

After 45-minutes or so in the bus, and we entered the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.  For the next several hours, we got and off the bus to see the Jaggar Museum and view the Kilauea crater/caldera, the steam vents, the Thurston Lava Tube, walk on a lava flow from the early 1980’s, and view two, older, dormant craters… AMAZING!

Nest stop was the Black Sand beach, and another opportunity to see green sea turtles, both in the water and on land.  After this, we drove for another 30-minutes or so to stop for lunch at the Punalu’u Bakery.

Another 45-minutes of winding roads, increasing elevation, and then a descent, brought us to Pu’ uhononua o Honaunau National Historical Park (City of Refuge); our last stop of the day before going on to the city of Kona, and our last hotel of the trip, the Courtyard King Kamehameha Kona Beach Hotel.

Pictures, and more details / insights to follow…

We are off to the Luau!!

Research and Public Health Wrap-up

Sunday, May 20th

We had a 3-hour class this morning.  I led a discussion on the program of research of a colleague of mine from the University of Nevada, Reno / Orvis School of Nursing.  Dr. Bernadette Longo is a nurse epidemiologist who studies the cardiovascular and respiratory health effects of living in areas close to active volcanoes.  She has visited volcanic sites in all of the Americas, and has collected data related to the Kilauea volcano for several years.

Kumu Lisa then led a discussion on current public health issues and legislation in Hawaii.  The session ended with a review of the “This is Public Health” photos submitted by the students.

In the afternoon, we had an informal discussion with David Gaynes, the man who arranged for Kumu Ehulani to teach us Hula on Saturday.  He moved to Hawai’i six years ago from the mainland, and felt an instant affinity with Native Hawaiian culture.  He is a software developer, who works from home.  He has also started a business to connect  Native Hawaiians with visitors seeking cultural experiences on the Big Island.  He invited a friend of his, a Kahuna in ancient Hawaiian chant, to come and provide a demonstration of the art for the students.  For the Kahuna, chant is an intense, and personal expression.  To show respect, we did not take any pictures while he was chanting.

Kalae Ohi’a Papa Laua’e

Saturday afternoon, we were fortunate to fit into the busy schedule of Ehulani Stephany, a Kumu Hula (Hula teacher). She taught the class a traditional hula based on the story of Hi’iaka, the favorite sister of Pele.

Ehulani Stephany telling the story of the hula she will teach us…

This mele is the lament of Hi’iaka upon her vision of the ruin and desolation of her beloved forests and lehuas in Puna by the fiery temper of Pele. Her gentle and dearest friend, Hopoe, was swallowed up in this destruction.”

Rather than pictures of the class, we are sharing the video of the final run through of the entire hula. Ehulani choreographed the hula in a simple fashion, so that she could teach us the principles of hula while also teaching us the steps in the hula.

The video is on you tube. It is set to only have those with the link view it. We ask that you do not share the link. Click here for the video.

(BTW: Credit where credit is due.  Kumu Lisa developed this entry.  Kumu Noel does NOT possess the technical skills needed to upload a video…)

Hawaii College of Oriental Medicine

Saturday, May19th

The day began with a visit to the 5th floor of our hotel, where the Hawaii College of Oriental Medicine (HICOM) now has its offices.  Megan Yarberry, the Academic Dean of the college, and an intern, Micah, talked to the students about the history and principles of acupuncture, as well as the course of study offered at the college.

Megan Yarberry & Micah

Megan shared that an acupuncture treatment begins with a health history and a physical exam. The exam includes the assessment of the pulse in multiple locations on the wrist. Each pulse corresponds to a different body system. The next step is to examine the tongue. The color and shape of the tongue indicate different types of problems. Megan had the students assess each others’ pulses and tongues.

Stephanie M. & Jill O. assess tongues.

Megan next described community outreach with acupuncture. She has traveled to Uganda and Haiti to provide acupuncture treatment and teach simple acupuncture techniques to people of those countries. One mission of HICOM is to provide community acupuncture clinics, which make acupuncture more affordable.

One of the principles of acupuncture is that the ear is a micro-system for the body, meaning that you can treat the body through the ear. This is similar to reflexology using the foot as a micro-system for the body (i.e., you can treat the body through the foot). Megan and Micah explained that the simple protocol for the ear involves the insertion of several needles. Research in addiction recovery has indicated five sites that produce a consistent calming affect in all who receive the treatment. Then, Megan offered to provide this ear treatment to anyone who was interested in receiving it… no one declined.

Acupunture needles in place.

As you can see, for this ear treatment, the needles are very thin and short. Most of us felt a small prick when they were inserted. No one complained of bothersome discomfort. The needles stayed in for up to 20 minutes. Some fell out on their own, and some of us asked to have them removed earlier. Many of us experienced a sense of calm during and after the treatment.