Today’s blog is from our amazing Ulu Pono Kids Director, Katie Connor. This woman has an amazing (and patient!) heart for the kids on our street – and in my opinion, one of the toughest jobs at STN! She is constantly striving to make the program the best it can be and provide the children with every opportunity possible. However, there is one thing she cannot do – stop the kids from growing up! In today’s guest blog, she explains her plans and hopes for the Ulu Pono Kids program as its members become too old to be called “kids.”
“Ulu Pono Teens” – to this day, the name of this 4 month old program cracks me up. But let me set the stage before I explain why it makes me chuckle so much. The Ulu Pono Kids Program was created four years ago when the staff at Surﬁng The Nations saw a great need to hold an after-school program for the elementary age kids in the local area. The program was an immediate hit and quickly became a home away from home for them.
However, as many of those kids are now in middle school and high school, their interests have changed and most of their younger siblings attend the program. This age gap has caused many of them to drop out as it is hard to engage a 5 year old and 13 year old in the same lesson and social setting. We came to the realization that we needed to go back to the drawing board and create a program that would give the teens a safe place to learn and hang out while appealing to their age group.
Hence, Ulu Pono Teens was created. But at ﬁrst the program was nameless. As a staff, we tried to come up with a name that might appeal to teenagers – Wahiawa Gangstas, Ohai Ballers etc… We decided that at our ﬁrst meeting we would present the names to the kids, let them make their own suggestions, and then cast a vote!
Their favorite was “Ulu Pono Teens,” a name they created and they have shamelessly owned ever since (despite the fact that many are still 11 and 12 years old!). It is a simple name, but it describes perfectly where they have come from, who they are now and even who they are becoming. Although, it still makes me laugh that they didn’t like any of the elaborate names we had created!
To be in Ulu Pono Teens you must be in sixth grade or older, but our oldest kids are only 14 at the moment. Because of their age we have been able to do things that some of the younger kids may not yet be able to do, such as snorkeling, hiking and trips to the museum. Our heart is to show these kids that there is “life” and a future for them beyond their street and neighborhood; that they have the opportunity to follow their passions if they work hard. We also teach them basic leadership principles through simple things like neighborhood clean-ups to help them understand the importance of being upright citizens and members of their community.
We are so proud of these kids and are excited to see them continue to grow and develop into young adults over the next few years. We know that these kids have the power to inﬂuence the future of this community and we are honored to be a part of the continued change happening in Wahiawa, Hawaii.
To keep up with Katie’s personal adventures as the Ulu Pono Kids Director, follow her blog at adventurewahiawa.wordpress.com!
Indonesia, more recently known for its perfect waves, has been recognized since the 1500′s for its prized export goods among traders and tourists. Although traveling to Indonesia no longer requires jumping on a Dutch merchant vessel, the unique items found there are still highly desired by those living in the Western world.
On our trip to Indo, each team member is asked to bring 2 suitcases full of donations to give out while there, and use only a carry-on for all of his or her personal items. Given this space limitation, we want to know which treasures the individuals on the trip decided to bring back to Hawaii! Below are a few of our staffs’ favorite Indonesian finds.
1. Balinese Dancer Carving. The art you can find in Indonesia is unreal! This carving is of a Balinese dancer, a traditional form of dance in Indonesia. From carvings to paintings, there is so much artistic talent in Indonesia.
2. Batik Sarong (Pareo). Another traditional Indonesian art form, is the practice of batik fabric dying. This sarong (known here in Hawaii as a “pareo”) is just one of the hundreds of variations in color and pattern you can find Indonesia.
3.Sunnies. With all of the Aussie tourists in Bali, we started to adapt to the culture and began to call sunglasses “sunnies”! You can find knock-offs on every corner for about $2 a piece.
4. Bracelets on Bracelets on Bracelets… If you go to Indo and leave without buying a bracelet (male or female) our hat is off to you! Vendors all over Indo love to make these and often recruit their adorable children to help them in the selling process – gets us every time.
5. Shells. One of the only souvenirs in Indo you won’t have to bargain for.
6. Bali Girls’ Shorts. Attention women: These funky shorts are the most comfortable and useful pair of shorts you will ever own. You can wear them to shop/ surf / sleep /travel – almost anything! One size fits all and you can bargain them down to 30.000 rupiah ($3!)
7. Seaweed Flavored Lay’s Potato Chips! I know many of you may read this and think, “yuck!” However, if you love sushi (as most Hawaiians do!), you would love these! If you go to Indo, this is a must try!
8. Batik Backpack. Just another amazing item you can get made out of batik fabric.. Perfect for day trips in Indo.
9. Bow and Arrow. Katniss would be in heaven if she saw all the beautifully carved bows you can find in Indo. We can’t guarantee their straightness or proper weighting, but they are pretty cool to hang on your wall!
10. Bali Mens’ Shorts. Men, this one is for you! They may run a little short, but almost every male on our trip came home with a pair – and then some! We recommend them for swimming / surfing, but we’ve definitely caught a few wearing them around our office at STN!
11. Rupiah. Have you ever wanted to be a millionaire? Well, if you have more than $100 to your name you already are in Indonesia! The current rate is 10.000 to 1! Careful though – you’ll spend it faster than you would think!
12. Trucker Hats. Last, but not least, trucker hats! We decided we couldn’t leave Indo without a little something to shamelessly represent it once we got back to Hawaii.
*Not featured: Beng-Bengs!! If you’ve been to Indo, your mouth should be watering right now just at the thought of them! For those who haven’t, this is Indonesia’s version of a Kit-Kat bar .. None made it back because we ate them all!
On My Bookmarks Bar:
Charis Bauer Ifland, Business Director
This week, we are sharing Charis Ifland’s favorite bookmarked websites. As a wife, business director and world traveler, this girl knows which websites are the best for helping her keep the many moving parts of her life in order! Take note, the next few websites you may want to remember!
1. Mint.com is a great tool to organize and manage your finances! It brings your financial information to one place, you can create a budget, and set goals to plan for the future. It helps save and enjoy the important things in life!
Last Saturday, Surfing The Nations got to participate in the 11th annual Wahiawa Pineapple Parade and Festival! We had a fun day celebrating the little town of Wahiawa we proudly call home with the rest of our community. From delicious local food vendors to an entire row of colorful bounce-houses, nearly everyone resident of Wahiawa came out on the sunny summer afternoon to take part in the festivities. The change that is occurring in Wahiawa is amazing and we love getting to be a part of it! Enjoy the photo recap below and see yet another reason why we love Wahiawa.
To learn more about the Pineapple Festival click here.
For the first time since 2010, Surfing The Nations has sent off a team to the Philippines!
During November each year, Movember is responsible for the sprouting of moustaches on thousands of men’s faces, in the US and around the world. With their Mo’s, these men raise vital awareness and funds for men’s health issues, specifically prostate and testicular cancer initiatives.
- 1 in 6 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime
- Every 2.1 minutes, a man is diagnosed with prostate cancer
- Every 18.6 minutes, a man dies from prostate cancer
- In 2012, more than 242,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and more than 28,000 men will die from prostate cancer.
How can you get involved?
Learn more and sign up at Movember.com
And stay tuned for exciting STN x MOVEMBER give-aways
Jeremy Seick, Zack Williams, and Renee Arnold from Surfing The Nations are here in Mexico City recruiting. We are being hosted by the amazing Maria “Nana” and Paola in one of the craziest cities we’ve ever been in. Here are some highlights from our first couple days. One of our first stops was Maria and her brother Rodrigo’s school Beraca, in Saint Jeronimo. We chatted it up with passionate young people, one of our favorite being Emilio who gave Zack a tech deck to “remember him” by.
Then it was off to Transformacion Urbana located in Chimalhuacan, 2 hours away from our home base but amazingly still within Mexico City (this place is massive). After being led through at least an hour of shanty homes and towns we reached the organization, and were given a tour of their programs. Transformation Urbana is an organization that equips and educates people in low-income communities. This education spans from local government to healthy eating and living through Zumba and soy supplement cooking classes. Oh and for lunch Zack and I got the pleasure of eating breaded pigs feet.
More of our adventures have included 2 AM taco runs with the whole family, mariachi sessions, dogs with dreadlocks, eating ram, cactus, pigs womb, horchata, and socially acceptable pork rinds. Probably the highlight spontaneous moment of the trip happened during a quick lunch stop at Arroyo. While looking for the mens room Jeremy stumbled upon a bull fighting arena. While watching for just a moment he saw what was a young boy no older than 10 fighting a massive bull. During a maneuver the bull’s horn lifted him up and threw him to the ground Hulk Hogan style, leaving the boy frozen on the ground bleeding. Jeremy ran back to find us and we returned to witness this young boy return to the ring after being bandaged, and having lost the use of one arm, to dominate this beast. He returned with dignity, passion, and confidence like none I’ve seen. He commanded the mariachi’s “Musica!” and defeated the massive bull to the applause of hundreds of onlookers.
…And they’re off!
Last night we sent out five of our staff to California, thus beginning our 2012 California/Mexico Recruitment Tour. I had a chance to peek at their schedule and it looks pretty packed with visits to Azusa Pacific University, Point Loma, Hurley International and the Dane Williams Memorial Surf Festival – and that’s just in California. Continue Reading
It has been a quick yet fabulous month in Bangladesh and the team has been making their way back home to Hawaii. 12 hours on a bus from Coxs Bazar to Dhaka, an airplane through Thailand, and a couple more flights over the Pacific and I’m sure they will be sleeping for the next day just recovering from an exhausting travel.
Rickshaws rides and elephants, surfboards and street-kids, three-pieces and board shorts. You can begin to realize the world of a difference the sport of surfing might pose in a country like Bangladesh. But after only 30 days, the 2012 Bangladesh team hosted a nation-wide surfing competition in Cox’s Bazar, an all-girls surf camp and outreaches to the neighboring country of Myanmar. Continue Reading