The Congnizance of an Unconvinced Collegiate


When I returned to my Hawaii home after my around-the-world trip, only to start getting my books and myself together to go to college for the first time, it all seemed pretty surreal. I mean think about it; here I was, a seventeen year old girl who had just seen most of the world’s beauty as well as ugliness flash before her eyes within the meager span of a month, now being thrown back into society to pursue the beginning of the rest of my life. It was definitely a disorienting experience, since my mind remained in the heat and blaze of Africa as I rode my bike beneath the all-encompassing canopy of UH Manoa’s  McCarthy Mall. Starting off in such a new environment was a little scary, but as I began to get accustomed to this new way of “college life,”  pieces of my heart still remained scattered at different parts of the globe, and this new experience did not appear quite as exciting as it seemed superficial to my newly globalized way of thinking.

As I completed the daunting and very unromantic task of registering for classes and freaking out in the attempt to locate my daily routes throughout the enormous campus, I had no idea of the ensuing inspiration that awaited me. This was just another school, after all.

Or so I thought. But I came to realize –and, mind you, this perspective may stem from my preexistent nerdiness– that my starting college back in my island home was not a trivial backstep in my overall idealistic footprint on the world, but instead has become a vehicle for further inspiration of catalyzing change. I came to realize that this whole college thing was not just school anymore; we were no longer learning the basics. No, now we were getting the chance to connect our prior knowledge and see how what we learn is relevant to the world we live in. It’s miraculous how much value knowledge can hold when you can connect it to the human experience. Especially now that I’ve been introduced to the studies of sociology and geography, I have come to integrate these concepts into my travel-based schema of the world, enabling me to make neural as well as intuitive connections and better understand what my human family is going through. Although I had walked into the classroom in doubt, feeling that it had no more to offer than that of which I was already aware, my awareness of the state of our world has expanded to much greater breadth than I would’ve ever imagined.

In this way I close my very first semester in higher education, and write as a tribute for my appreciation of this great, eye-opening experience.


Another Poem: Ivory-Like Shoulders


The wind pushed her sleeve off her shoulder

And it billowed lightly in the breeze–

A little mindless Monroe moment

In a place far off the set and screen.

She didn’t bother to fix it

–she wasn’t that kind of girl.

Didn’t bother to conceal her newly exposed shoulder

Bare and pale against the flash of hot pink–

She liked that the burning contrast made her smolder

Liked to imagine what others would think.

No, the wind continued its due course

Moving across her body in fluttering caresses

She let it move willingly,

Throwing at it all her cares and stresses.

Her life was one of the many messes,

And she didn’t even know it.

Oh, but did she show it.

Her hair had dyed long ago,

Once platinum as snow,

Now a deadened shade of green.

She’d been all but mean,

But when I’d see her screaming at her folks

I could see through the impalpable facade she wore about her

–An invisibility cloak draped around her shoulders

Made of bitter words and dejection.

I must call to attention

That, casting aside that veil about her shoulders,

She was but a lonely orphan girl.

But the veil held strong,

Winding its way about her,

Cutting off her air

Until she could no longer cry out that she was scared.

She convinced herself that this was who she was–

An independent woman

Age fifteen, hitting the streets.

She’d laugh and talk about the easy money,

Her bright future of illegitimate success

She would not confess

Her disillusionment, could not voice her great regrets

For she’d chosen this path for herself

–or this path had chosen her

And, during late nights in the streets of Waikiki

The veil tightened its hold around her shoulders.

There the mysterious Marilyn remained,

The wind carrying her hopes and dreams away.

I waited not too far away, ready to catch them

Bring them back–

If only she’d too come back some day.

A Little Poem I Just Wrote


Although I normally find myself writing free verse poems– I find that the lack of structure gives you more freedom to express yourself– my eccentric yet nonetheless interesting English class focuses almost completely on song lyrics, and therefore sort of got me into writing a more structured, song-like poem myself. Here’s a little something I wrote when I heard a song that reminded me of my high school life that now seems so long ago…

Reverberating Heartstrings

Sound danced upon the once still water,

Creating reverberating lines

Of trembling light.


I could see the music as it started over,

Notes strummed on a guitar,

Fingers taking flight.


The bittersweet sounds in the air hovered,

Reverberating heartstrings

Echoing into the night.


Memories in my mind’s eye were muttered,

The past left vibrant,

The future looking bright.


Who knew the past would so soon be covered

By the sands of time;

Solemnly taking flight?


The past left me moving ever farther,

Pursuing present dreams

Of greater height.


But he played the music of a life no longer,

Strumming tightened heartstrings

No longer in sight.


Now I see the sounds dance upon the water,

Strumming abandoned heartstrings

Brought back to light.

Another Snippet of Unintended Adventure


Then there was the Swaziland adventure. We had driven for five hours from Johannesburg to the Swaziland border (Swaziland is a kingdom in South Africa, and is considered a separate country), and were now going through immigration there. We had our passports at the ready, certain of the impending monotony of showing identification and filling out forms as necessary. But when we got to the window, the immigration officer said that, because I was a minor, I was not allowed into the country without a birth certificate. Apparently, a very new law had gone into effect stating this in order to prevent the human trafficking of children. But it just so happened that I was bound by this new, very inconvenient law, and I had no means of giving them a legal document that was more than ten thousand miles away.

Luckily, as had happened with our lost luggage, my dad was persistent, and insisted on talking to the supervisor. Sure enough, he let us go, especially after being informed of our reasons for coming to his country– to better the lives of his own people with solar cooking. But he warned us that we would be unable to get back out of Swaziland once we were in the border, unless we got a certified copy of my birth certificate.

Thus began our slightly stressful efforts to enable me to leave the country of Swaziland. I did see multiple billboards advertising the local universities there, and I even considered enrolling in a few in case I was unable to go back home to attend UH Manoa ;). Luckily, I didn’t have to do that; we were able to get in touch with people back home, get it certified, and cross the border to get back into South Africa, and then home. If we’d been unable to do so, I might be going to the University of Swaziland right now.


A Few More Crazy Stories

IMG_6275As I wrote about these wonderful places I’ve visited in a romanticized light– if the country wasn’t the best the people still turned out to be amazing individuals– I had gotten so caught up in the prose that I had completely forgotten a few key crazy adventures we’d had to endure in the meantime.

First of all, there was our baggage disappearance. As we left Niger, we went through Ethiopia to Egypt. Supposedly, our precious baggage was supposed to have been transferred from one plane to the next and arrive at the same time and place as us. Yet, after many hours of flying, we landed in the Cairo airport only to wait at the conveyor belt in the dark hours of morning for bags that never arrived.

We were reassured by Ethiopian Airlines that we could expect our bags to arrive the next day. However, that day passed and we still didn’t have our bags. We’d sweated in the Egyptian desert wearing two-day-old clothes, and still carried close to no other possessions. In a way the experience was almost freeing, if only I could’ve been reassured that eventually we would get our bags back. But we were in the middle of this drama, so we were just weighted down by the dread of never seeing our bags again.

The next day, they still didn’t arrive. My dad ended up getting a cab at 2:00AM to go to the airport and catch the Ethiopian Airlines reps as the flight came in. He did bring something back– his own bag. Yep, only his luggage had come over after forty-eight hours, and the next day we were due to leave for Greece. By this time it had seemed a bleak situation, one in which my mom and I would never see our bags again (if it was just clothes that were lost it would be fine, but I had one of my journals from many past trips in my bag, along with many stories I’d written).

We left the next day (it literally took us three cabs to get to the airport; but that’s another story) for Greece, mostly resigned to our fates. When we arrived in Athens, we had to find the closest department/convenience store where we could get essentials. We bought clean clothes and toiletries, and spent the rest of our stay there enjoying ourselves. But throughout our stay, we were yet to find our luggage.

When we left Greece, we had to stop in Egypt before flying back to Ethiopia. When we got into the Cairo airport, my dad insisted he be allowed to look into the storage rooms where lost bags were left. At first he was told that none of our bags could be found in their computer system. But he persevered, and thank goodness he did, because when he came back to meet with my mom and I he had her luggage in his hands. There was only one to go.

The climatic moment happened when we returned to Ethiopia. I was still wearing my short-sleeved rompers that we’d salvaged from Greece, but now instead of being a relieving cool garment, the surface of my skin sprung up into goosebumps in the cold weather of Ethiopia. We waited for about an hour before we were able to talk to the man in charge of baggage. When we finally were able to, we gave him the luggage number, he looked into his computer, and said, “It says here that your baggage had an email address written on it: Is this your email?” We had found my bag! He got it out of storage and, after a week, I finally had my possessions with me once more. It had certainly been a crazy ride.

Here’s a Glimpse into Greece…

I’m going to be honest with you; I wrote this while I was on the trip and it somehow was never published 😉

Well, I’ve gotta say, as amazing as the pyramids were (and they were utterly impressive) I have a soft spot for Greece. After all, I spent pretty much my entire childhood reading Greek myths and pretending I was a demigod (if you’d like to know, Poseidon was my parental choice).

Seeing these ruins right in front of me, feeling the ancient marble beneath my shoes and taking in the entire view of the great Acropolis, I felt like I’d been pulled back in time, back to the stories of Athena’s strange birth from the head of Zeus, and her claiming Athens as her own with the Olive tree. It made me truly feel the immense age and rich culture that had passed over the very land on which I stood, and on which so many have stood before me. There was a magic to it all, and unlike in Egypt, we were undisturbed by hustlers the entire time (you don’t know how many people in Egypt told us they didn’t want any money for our time; they all wanted to be our good friends). Instead, we were able to truly experience the great structures for ourselves, letting the many crowds of tourists drop away and leave only us in the great presence of the very face of ancient Greece. It was beautiful.

So…We Really Did It

Gosh, looking back at the amazing adventures I’ve been through over the past 3 months makes it hard to believe that it had all been real; thinking about these crazy experiences feels more like a mere recollection of a complex, surreal dream. Was I really right there, in the presence of the pyramids, the Taj Mahal, the Parthenon?! Yet here I am once again, at the kitchen table, having been brought back to the much different adventure of everyday life.

Usually, when I come back from a trip like this, when one no longer really knows what cultural values are right or wrong anymore, I usually feel displaced when I come home, as if my real world isn’t real at all. Instead, what was out there in the bigger world would seem much more solid a manifestation, as I saw people truly living from one day to the next.

However, this time it’s different. This time it did indeed feel strange coming back to the monotonous existence of home. But instead of my world seeming less significant, it seemed to have been placed in a new light, and I could now see my life as if through a perception-changing filter. I’ve come to notice the subtle signs of people’s mindless following of convention, and find myself discarding some of my own, and integrating pieces of other cultures into my own identity. Of course, I’ve also felt myself become more open to it all than ever before. I guess you can say that with so much new experience comes a new you. It’s quite fitting, actually, to have come to my own little epiphany and taken on a new perspective, as these are all things to put under my belt for my new upcoming adventure: College.

Yep, We Went to Egypt

Throughout our lives, we’ve heard of the ancient pyramids and the sphinx of Egypt. But I couldn’t believe it was the real thing when I saw it. They were all massive, each block alone weighing more than two tons! And for what– the immortalization of a pharoah. Indeed, there seems to be a pattern in history, spanning from the Taj Mahal to the Great Pyramids: there is always the tendency to create great things for individual, important people and the powerful motive that is faith. These ancient people had so much faith in there being an afterlife for their mummified pharoah, and were convinced of his godliness regardless of cruelity or any other imperfect human characteristics he had shown them. In one sense, the sight of these ancient structures is miraculous, in another it is utterly disturbing. Yet seeing it in yet a different light, it is maybe not living proof, but it’s surely immortalized proof, of mankind’s potential for a faith that is strong a pure. This of course is a danger in a sense of blind faith, but it is also reassuring that we have the capacity of taking the leap, despite opposing forces.

Whatever you take from this, seeing these ancient structures was amazing.

An Amazing Family in Zinder


We went to Niger, taking a flight from the capital of Niamey to a smaller city called Zinder. In fact, this had been the one country that we’d been slightly worried about going to, because there are many warnings on the internet that say how extremely dangerous it is. But we heard that the danger is mainly in the north, and so we went regardless.

What we found there was a fantastic surprise: a new family. We had come to Zinder to meet with one of my dad’s partners. But this man is not just any local of Niger; him and his family happen to be the only caucasian residents in the entire city, and may well be an extreme minority within the country as a whole. Their purpose there is an extremely important one: to be able to utilize native plants for food products that would’ve otherwise been replaced by foreign food stuffs. In this way, not only do native plants get protection, but less trees are cut down and the local people are given jobs to do in their own community. My dad’s technology comes in as a means of debittering these native Hanza seeds. Although they have other methods as well, this local family values the environment as much as my family does, and therefore tries their best to achieve environmentally sustainable methods.

But that’s all the technical stuff, and the reason why we came. But what we experienced when we got there was much more special. My dad’s partner had three beautiful blonde girls, one of which is only two and has a total attitude towards anyone who’s not her mother (I still love her though), and the other two of which became two of my closest friends within the span of only two and a half days. The authenticity of their entire family is so precious and so hard to come by in this age of materialism and short attention spans, that the connection between our two families became apparent instantly. And now I have to take back with me some wonderful memories that I will never forget, and two new great friends leading very different lives than my own.

Ouagadougou: The African Capital No One’s Ever Heard Of


The country of Burkina Faso is where the majority of our Blazing Tube projects are distributed. They’ve been sold at subsidized prices to many families in the city, as well as to UN refugee camps in the country. We got to go out in the field, well, actually to the bush (pronounced boosh in Africa), experiencing the immensely bumpy roads and the beating sun. In fact I almost fainted in one of the villages. It’s certainly not something I’m proud of, but being out in the sun so long must’ve really affected me without my being conscious of it.

Regardless, Burkina Faso is the African country I’m most familiar with, and it’s so nice to meet the people that are using the solar cookers and give out candy to the little children peeking at us full of curiousity. We even met a man from Brussels who spends much of his time in the country, helping out at a school for very poor children and feeding them with the help of our solar cookers. His perserverance to help people, even at the expense of his own comfort, really inspired us to do more with our efforts.