It took nine hours for The Priory's five students and Lower School Principal Ka'ipo Bailey-Walsh to cover the 4,000 miles between Hawai'i and Aotearoa, New Zealand for a two-week leadership trip this past summer. Despite unfamiliar, chilly weather and a time zone readjustment, the group gained a sense of global awareness and perspective from their time spent in Aotearoa – which means "land of the long white cloud" in Māori.
Upper School juniors Stephanie Albãna, Maya Reid, Christy Kwok and Shaye Nishimura, along with chaperone Bailey-Walsh, had a jammed jam-packed schedule while in New Zealand. The group – along with other Hawai'i students from Waianae High School, Nanakuli High School and St. Josephʻs in Hilo - attended the Partnership for Youth (P4Y) leadership forum "Shaping Vision 2030 for Community Revitalization and Sustainability."
P4Y is a Pacific-based leadership forum that encourages collaboration between youth from Hawai'i and New Zealand. The forum was organized by Te Atiawa Tribal Council in partnership with Te Ara Whānui Kura Kaupapa Māori o ngā Kōhanga Reo o Te Awa Kairangi, leaders of Hawaiki Atua and the East-West Center.
Throughout the conference, the students learned a great deal about the Māori culture and were challenged to share their ideas, insights and resources while creating a network and building on their creative and innovative potential. Activities focused on open discussions and team-building exercises with the goal that students would become problem-solvers and change-makers able to meet the demands of a fast-changing and interconnected world.
Students were asked to bring home what they learned from the conference. The group came up with ideas for the future that are backed with action plans.
"I've started a club this year, called Eco-PAAC, where I aim to inspire other middle and high school students to make a positive change in their community," Albãna said. "While we were in Aotearoa, Maya, Christy, Shaye and I made an action plan that would eliminate plastic at St. Andrew's and one day, make it an eco-friendly campus.
"Our goal for this year is to eliminate 50 percent of polystyrene, or Styrofoam, in our school. We'd also like to encourage everyone to bring their own reusable plates, utensils and cups. This year, the cafeteria has switched from using Styrofoam trays to using paper ones, which helps our cause. By the end of our senior year in spring 2020, we aim to eliminate the usage of polystyrene 100 percent, making campus a Styrofoam-free campus."
Bailey-Walsh observed the positive impact the conference had on the students. "From my observations, a spark was ignited," she said. "Our students came away with knowledge, skills, friendships and connections. This was a wonderful opportunity for them to connect with young people from all over the world who share the same concerns and goals for social change. They each left with a personal plan of action to address sustainable development changes they shared globally at a local level at their own school, neighborhood and community."
Through this unforgettable summer trip, the five students brought home a heightened sense of global awareness. They were encouraged to consider other perspectives and work on shared goals with peers from different backgrounds and experiences.
"During this trip, I learned that it takes everyone to change the world and that change can start with just a single person with the right mindset," Albãna said. "We've come a long way, thanks to programs like P4Y, but still need to do a lot more to reach our goals by 2030. I intend to do my best to find more ways that I can transform my community into one that is self-sustaining for the future using the experiences and insights I gained from the conference."
The students presented their projects at an all-school assembly on Friday, September 28, which included a fun cultural activity they learned at the conference.