Department News and Events

HPU students, alumni, faculty, and staff unplug from the grid and plug into life…

This past Thanksgiving, Kupuna-in-residence Dr. Lynette Cruz took a group of 20 to Maui for the experience of a life time. The group was a mix of students, undergraduates, faculty, staff and alumni from HPU. Lead by anthropology senior Nicole Lemas, the group met and lived off the grid with local famer Uncle Oliver Dukelow and his Ohana.  The farm had no electricity, no running water, no shower and the nearest store was over an hour away. The group faced challenges, confronting issues with each other as well as within themselves. They laughed hard and worked hard, bonding in a landscape and way of life that some refer to as “the real Hawai‘i”.

A gathering was held in Sharky's Cove on Friday, December 9th to reflect and share their stories and experiences.

Dr.Cruz with Maui group

It was clear that the experience was unique and touched many of the student’s lives in a permanent positive way. “We really got to work together” said anthropology student Patrik Vanwyck. The group talked of working together to accomplish tasks and the importance of connecting with the land. Americorp Vista representative Ellen Roberts shared a story of how one day Uncle Oliver explained, “There is no food. Your task is to get food for the day” and that doesn’t mean just drive to the grocery store. The group hunted for hihiwai (a fresh water limpet and variety of the more well-known opihi, often eaten at luau in Hawai‘i) in the river, explored the fishponds and harvested Kalo. Through physical work and living off the grid, unplugged from electronic media, the group bonded and came back with an overwhelming sense of the importance of community. Student Cody Moore explained how real it was to live and work side by side with fellow community members. He explained that most of what we experience in our day to day lives is highly individualistic and lacks a genuine connection.

The group was asked how they feel they can share this life changing experience with others. For one, the experience may be open to others as Dr. Cruz is looking to find a way to embed extended field trips/service learning into curriculum within the different disciplines as a way to expose students to what Moore described as the ‘real world’ and to enhance and broaden HPU’s community based support.  “As it is,” Cruz stated, “the field trips fit well in the Anthropology Program, but can offer students in other programs, like nursing and international studies, a way to connect more personally with what is going on around them.  All of this is done quite informally at the student level, but programs/departments can also benefit through outreach to other campuses to establish new bonds and strengthen previous connections.”  Van Wyck noted that HPU has its own Kalo patch. Started by Anthropology student Nick Needle, the field (located on the Windward campus) needs hands to help it grow. It’s a great opportunity for people to connect to the aina and get a chance to put down the cell phone, get off the computer,  unplug from the individual outlet and plug in to the collective.

For more information on helping and working in HPU’s Kalo patch please contact Patrick Van Wyck at