Kanu o ka ‘Āina: Voyaging Across a Sea of Stars

While aloha ʻāina is not the first thing that comes to mind when we think of an engineer developing machines to fly through the air or a scientist floating in the vast darkness of space, perhaps it should be. ʻAnoʻi Straus is a 2016 graduate from Kanu o ka ʻĀina Public Charter School in Waimea, Moku o Keawe. She received a four-year dean’s scholarship to Embry-Riddle University, where she is studying Aeronautical Engineering in the hopes of becoming an astronaut.

Students like ʻAnoʻi prove that educating our ʻōpio with our language and culture pushes them to thrive in whichever fields they choose, while always being rooted in aloha for the ʻāina. The fact that ʻAnoʻi sees the puʻu and mauna of her beloved Waimea as her peers in learning is a powerful statement that ʻāina should not be separate from education, nor seen as merely a value-added extra, a way to add local color. It should be the deep and powerful foundation for how we teach our children. ʻAnoʻi’s love for Waimea, the verdant home of the Puʻu haele lua, Pili and Kalāhikiola, and the chilly Kīpuʻupuʻu, ensures that no matter how far she may voyage, across continents, across stars, she will always be able to return home.

“The ‘āina has been my peer. I want to make these pu‘u proud. Stand tall like they do, and keep that connection with me wherever I go.”

Ano‘i Straus, 2015 Kanu o ka ‘Āina Graduate