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#HUMANSOFWAHIAWA

They’re strangers.
Strangers aren’t supposed to affect your daily life very much.
Strangers don’t have your trust.
They don’t have your time, like the friends that have had years with you.
They don’t possess a place in your memory.

 

But these strangers have a power; these strangers have stories.
 

Their stories bridge the distance between your separate roads
and cause you to share a moment on their path.
Before you know it, you find the people that are the most obscure are suddenly influencing you. With their words and expressions lingering into your mind, you feel your heart inevitably soften, your mindset shift and your perspective grow.

These strangers that I speak of can be found on the highly popular blog ”Humans Of New York’‘.
If you  are one of the few who haven’t heard of it before, Humans Of New York was started by 20-something Brandon Stanton. Having lost his job in bond trading, Brandon hit the streets, to start photographing random people in New York City. Like any good photographer, Brandon interacted with his subjects and started to add the stories and quotes that stood out to him during those conversations.
 
Some photos are published with long captions, others have just one line, and all of them find their way to our hearts. They are now steadily covering instagram, facebook and tumblr feeds.
In a circle of irony, the ‘social’ networks that have been accused of discouraging
real interaction with even those that are closest to us, have come full circle to bring us
close to strangers.
 
A few weeks ago, we sent out Surfing The Nations staff and interns into our town of Wahiawa to get to know the people ‘Humans Of New York’ style, and document them on instagram with the hashtag  #humansofwahiawa.
Most people on the mainland and living elsewhere, imagine Hawaii to be swarming with native people sporting hula skirts and ukukleles, or perhaps they view it as a grown-up Disneyland full of tourists, with dolphins jumping over a volcano sitting under a rainbow.
Hawaii, and specifically Wahiawa, is a very diverse place. The #humansofwahiawa project put on display the different ages, races, hopes and dreams of our town.
There are many things that can be learned from the photos on Humans Of New York or  #humansofwahiawa, but more than anything, we learn that
everyone has a story, and that the most fascinating things we’ll hear
or see are still undiscovered. That is, unless we get out there, have the eyes to see, and open up our lives to strangers, or, rather, stories of our town.
 
Here’s just a few photos from the hashtag. Find more on instagram #humansofwahiawa !

The Youth Of Wahiawa Thrive in Ulu Pono

Today’s blog post comes from Ulu Pono director Brittany Southwick. The Ulu Pono program has grown by leaps and bounds over the years, and with the continued support of local charities and volunteers, so have the kids! Brittany writes about the amazing summer that the Ulu Pono kids an teens had and tells us what’s happening this school year

 

“The summer of 2014 brought deeper relationships, more fun and education to the Ulu Pono Department at Surfing the Nations. Over the months of June and July, we traveled all around the island every Wednesday and Thursday giving the youth experiences outside of Wahiawa, that, realistically, they would usually not be able to have. Using funding from grants received from Friends of Hawaii Charities, we took them to the Honolulu Zoo, Bishop Museum, snorkeling at Hanauma Bay, to volunteer at our Feeding the Hungry outreach and even took some of the teens camping for a weekend on the North Shore! The Summer Program is designed to keep the kids out of trouble that they get into during the summer when they are bored, and stuck in Wahaiwa with nothing to do. It rewards them for being consistent with their attendance during the school year, and helps us to get to know the kids on an even deeper level as we spend more time with them.

Now that summer is over, the school year has been in full swing with our Genius Factory program on Wednesdays as well as a brand-new community outreach on Saturday afternoons! Genius Factory focuses on the younger demographic, Pre-school  to 5th grade, providing free after school homework help, virtue lessons and healthy outlets such as dance, community clean-ups and art lessons. Our newest outreach, the Ohai Community BBQ is just taking off here in September as a way to reach out to the teenage demographic of Wahiawa. This presents an opportunity for us to connect with not only the kids of Wahiawa, but their families as well. Students from our internship program are involved in our Ulu Pono outreaches each week, fostering an even more community-minded lifestyle within Surfing the Nations. Ulu Pono means “To thrive on a Righteous Path” which is our heart behind the program- and none of it would be possible without the support and grant money from Friends of Hawaii Charities each year. We are so thankful and honored to receive their support and know that none of this is possible without them. We are looking forward to the 2014-2015 school year and all the growth that is going to happen in each one of our kids! ” – BS

 

To find out how you can volunteer or if you’d like more information on the Ulu Pono program, email brittany.southwick@surfingthenations.com

 

 

Ulu Pono Camping Trip

 

Serving at Feeding The Hungry

 

Busy At Work At The Genius Factory!

 

 

Shop On Amazon + Give Back

Any new finds on Amazon? Getting your Christmas shopping started early?

Now, one of the easiest ways for you to shop, has also become an easy way to give with AmazonSmile! You can choose to donate to Surfing the Nations at no added cost to your transaction. 0.5% of the price of eligible products will be donated directly to us when you’re ready to check out.

Here’s how it works:

  • Go to smile.amazon.com,
  • Sign in with your Amazon account
  • Select “Surfing the Nations” as your charitable organization.

Eligible products that you are purchasing will be marked “Eligible for AmazonSmile donation.” It’s a simple way to give back while promoting guilt free shopping!

Mahalo for your future investment in Surfing the Nations!

 

*”Donations are made by the AmazonSmile Foundation and are not tax deductible by you.”

Sailing Adventure Leadership Training

Aiming to take our commitment of character and leadership building to the next level, Surfing The Nations is excited to add a new leadership training program to its roster: S.A.L.T. – Sailing Adventure Leadership Training!

This program gives senior STN staff and volunteers the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to set sail around various Hawaiian Islands on a 96-foot sailboat, SSV Makani Olu, for one week. STN will partner up with The Marimed Foundation for this incredible excursion. Marimed was established in 1984 and delivers ocean and land-based learning experiences that empower youth, adults and families and strengthen communities (http://marimed.org/ ). Not only will the adventure develop skills in teamwork, decision making and adaptability, but STN staff will fully crew the ship: flexing their leadership skills by managing and operating the vessel over a continuous period, day and night, in some of the most intense ocean settings.

The trip will be an experience in what it means to be a true waterman. It will draw on each staff member’s endurance – mental and physical – and teamwork skills to achieve the team’s goals in the face of difficult challenges, unfamiliar obstacles and some of the harshest natural elements. Water-based activities the crew will also be participating in include snorkeling, free diving, spearfishing and fishing, while enjoying remote hikes during their anchorages.

 

/// Partner with Us

Help by donating to send this team on a life changing training experience. Your investment in a volunteer crew member will equip them to be world-changing men and women of character, ready to face the challenges that come with leadership, teamwork and the great outdoors.

 

Cost:

  • $1,100 per person

    • Includes all meals

    • Transport to and from ship

    • Team activities (fishing, sailing, safety, education, etc)

    • Safe Arrival Dinner

    • CPR First Aid Certifications

 

Donate Online:

 

/// Excursion Dates

Trip is weather dependent & based on Captain approval.Tentative dates range between

  • November  13th – November 19th, 2014

 

Follow us on social media to stay updated!

Instagram: @surfingthenations

twitter: stn1040

facebook.com/surfingthenations

 

PC: Dai Mar Takmarack

 

Pepperdine University /// Project Serve

Project Serve, an alternative spring break program offered by Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, allows students to travel together on an adventure and experience a “vacation” where the focus is not on themselves, but on serving others.

Project Serve teams, which are composed of students and led by students, travel to many locations in the U.S. as well as internationally.  The goal in doing so is to remove comfort zones and increase student awareness of issues being faced by others around the world.

For the past two years, Surfing the Nations has been selected by Pepperdine University as one of the opportunities offered within the program. While both Pepperdine and STN have similar goals regarding the service of others and fostering leaders, we find a significant point of connection through surfing. Rated one of the top ten surf colleges by SURFER Magazine, Pepperdine’s association with STN is a perfect fit.

This partnership has also created a unique platform for the students on Project Serve to participate in the lifestyle of service and community found at Surfing The Nations in a fun and meaningful way. Whether they are giving back at our local outreach programs or going on adventures in the tropical mountains of Oahu, students are presented with opportunities to pursue personal growth and experience the warmth of Hawaiian culture. We at STN hope for more schools to do the same and to invest in their students by giving them experiences that cannot be acquired in the confines of a classroom.

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Pepperdine students that have been involved with STN’s programs through Project Serve share the experiences they have had with our organization and the impact our interactions have had on their learning experiences. 

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Sarah Madsen, Senior at Pepperdine:

This past spring break, I had the honor of co-leading a group of 25 students on a service project in Wahiawa, Hawaii, where the organization Surfing the Nations is located. It was honestly one of the best experiences of my life. My team and I did a wide array of activities, from barbecuing at Waikiki and sharing meals with homeless and visitors alike, to helping hand out donations from the food bank, to surfing (of course!)…and I loved every minute of it.

All of the interns at STN were so welcoming and hardworking, and they really showed love in all they did. I am overjoyed that Pepperdine has strengthened their ties with such a wonderful organization, and I’m excited that more of my peers will have the opportunity to volunteer with STN!

 It is amazing to see how STN is being used to do great things in Wahiawa, and I’m excited to see [future groups of] Pepperdine students be inspired to join in!

 There are a several memories that stand out most prominently when I think back on my time with Surfing the Nations. One, among many, is watching a poor, single mother’s face light up when founder Tom Bauer sold her a computer for $4. Another is STN treating us like family from our first encounter and teaching us to surf during our first day there. Another is having lunch and conversations with homeless people on the beach.

Falon Opsahl, Junior at Pepperdine:

I was a member of the first Pepperdine team to work with STN for Project Serve in 2013. We were given the chance to explore the island and serve the people for a week. By the end, my body was sore and exhausted, but my heart was refilled, my mind was refocused, and my soul was rejuvenated.

Between surfing on the North Shore of Oahu, clearing a riverbank of debris, cleaning and reorganizing an ex-strip club that had been converted into a storage house for goods for the poor, hiking and jumping off waterfalls, feeding and hanging out with the homeless, and staying up late bonding with my Pepperdine team and the long-term STN team members, it was one of the most draining and inspiring experiences of my life.

I am grateful that I was able to pioneer the Project Serve partnership with STN. I am excited for my fellow Pepperdine students, present and future, who will be able to experience and spread the love, generosity, and selflessness of the STN organization and its team members.

 

Esther Kang, Sophomore at Pepperdine:

When I first found out that I was assigned to spend my Spring Break in Hawaii, I was “stoked” as the Hawaiians call it. Great waves, an opportunity to serve the people of Hawaii and an awesome group of friends….What more could I ask for? My experience at STN, however, was so much more than this. STN has left a mark on my character and now holds a very special place in my heart that I will treasure for the rest of my life. During my stay in Wahiawa I was consistently challenged, exhausted and pushed to my limits but this further ensued an increase in my faith, a deep sense of connection with the people around me, and the most fun and satisfaction that I’ve ever experienced in my life.

 Our first day serving food at Waikiki beach especially opened my eyes and helped me to reflect on my own character; It not only prompted me to see how blessed I am to be able to afford shelter, education and basic necessities, but this experience and the people I’ve conversed with also forced me to see the selfishness and oblivion that I have been living in day to day. One of my jobs that day was to hand out grocery bags that contained different canned foods and other goods in them. I remember giving a bag to one woman who waited next to me until most of the bags were given away. She finally shyly approached me and said that she already received a bag but that she would like one more to bring to her neighbor who needs it more than she does. She had politely waited another hour to make sure that she could bring home another bag for her neighbor. As I handed her another bag she thanked me with all her heart and I couldn’t help but think that I should be thanking her more for showing me what true selflessness looked like. Throughout the week I was able to witness many more similar acts of genuine altruism and kindness by people who I would have simply passed by if I was in Hawaii as a tourist.

Furthermore, each and every STN crew member has taught me that a life of service and devotion is far more valuable than a life that is lived to serve myself. The enduring enthusiasm and determination of the STN staff has inspired me to take further steps to live a life for a greater purpose and adopt a heart of service even if this simply means taking baby steps within my community. The peace and satisfaction that I felt while serving at STN was like no other and if I had the opportunity to work with STN again, I would do it a hundred times over.

 As Pepperdine students and the STN crew worked hand in hand, I truly felt surrounded by my family, or my “Ohana,” and I am thankful every day that we have been paired together for a greater cause. I personally feel that Pepperdine’s accreditation of the STN internship program would be a great way to lead Pepperdine students to an experience of a lifetime. There are very few experiences that significantly leave a mark on a person’s character, and I have no doubt that my experience at STN has done this to my life along with many others.  It has impacted the way I see the world, and helped determine the path that I will ultimately choose to take in life.

 

 

To learn more about Pepperdine University visit: http://www.pepperdine.edu

To learn more about Project Serve visit: http://www.pepperdine.edu/volunteercenter/opportunities/projectserve/

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Written By: Akela Newman

(Photos courtesy of Esther Kang, Pepperdine Project Serve 2014)

Just Passing Through…

Besides hitting the waves on International Surfing Day, another great way to celebrate the stoke of the ocean is to check out Reef’s latest surf short, “De Passage” created by Director and Cinematographer Russell Brownley in conjunction with Reef’s Global Creative Director, Mark Tesi.

Brownley is known for surf films such as “Walking on Water,” “Fading West” and “Promised Land” but is particularly special to Surfing the Nations because of his short documentary on Bangladesh called “Gum for my Boat.” Known for his ability to connect surfing and culture in meaningful ways, the debut of Brownley’s latest work is perfectly timed for International Surfing Day.

Brownley’s portrayal of the natural beauty of the ocean as well as the raw stoke of the people who surf its swells emphasizes the magnified beauty of each when the two meet in highly charged interactions. Add on the element of travel and “De Passage” fulfills every surf film’s potential to be an addictive, adrenaline-packed adventure laid out before the viewers’ eyes. The surreal qualities of Brownley’s videography convey the stoke that every surfer can identify with and that so many non-surfers long to experience.

“De Passage,” French for “Just Passing Through,” follows the surf adventures of Reef representatives throughout five continents and some of the worlds best surf spots. One of the fiercest breeds of explorers in our modern age are surfers. As the world becomes increasingly interconnected throughout all arenas of life, it is important to take time to appreciate the elements of nature that make surfing such a beautiful adventure all around the world.

While this is only the 10 year anniversary of Surfrider Foundation’s International Surfing Day the ideals that it focuses on are a part of our daily goals here at STN. Surfrider Foundation and Surfing Magazine started International Surfing Day as an initiative to combine the fun of surfing with the responsibility of caring for the environment. We at STN focus on combining surfing with humanitarian work locally and internationally…making every day International Surfing Day.

 

Click here to watch the full length film:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUJPKBR5DmI

 

(Written By: Akela Newman)

BLSD Project Hawaii Is Blessing The Kids Of Wahiawa


STN is excited to announce that the Ulu Pono kids program has been chosen as the first ‘ one for one’  project by local apparel company Blessed Project Hawaii (BLSD).

Read about their mission from their website below:
“”Our mission is to spread blessings to people in need, particularly children.  For every shirt we sell, we will give one to a person in need.  We have all been blessed with so many things in this world.  Sometimes we get too caught up in what we want for ourselves.  We should stop for a moment and realize that the things we take for granted everyday, someone else is praying for. We have all been blessed so that we can Bless others.
 
The Blessed Project Hawaii is a for-profit organization.  We understand that we cannot create a movement alone.  If we can get people to buy a shirt, we are able to get them to buy into giving.  The more people we can get to give (in any way), the more we can start to see a change in the world.   We will be starting all projects in Hawaii and plan to target one district at a time.  If we could get the support from each district, while on the project, we can start to see more smiles and perhaps some improvements.
 

Although a free T-Shirt for someone in need may seem like a small act, we believe that it can lead to greater and bigger acts of kindness ,progression, and togetherness. We would also like to raise an awareness of selflessness and the spirit of giving. For who ever wears “BLSD” apparel, we want them not to just look good but to feel good as well.”
 

For every shirt that BLSD sells, they will give one to a child in the  Ulu Pono Kids program. It is a very special and often rare thing for the kids to be able to get brand new clothing items. It will be an amazing way to invest in a child and show them they are worth it!
 

Their goal is to donate 100 shirts-. The prices range from 20 to 30 dollars per shirt, and there is also bags, hats, and stickers- all supporting the Blessed Hawaii Project.
Check it out! (the tote and stickers are some of our personal favorites)!
Contact and follow BLSD online:
Instagram- @blsdproject

Ohai Family Festival

Today’s blog comes from Katie Connor,  the director of STN’s Ulu Pono program. To see more photos and read more about her life working with the kids of Wahiawa, visit her blog.

 

Do you remember your first piano recital or football game? The weeks of practice and the butterflies in your stomach? Do you remember looking up into the bleachers or squinting from the bright stage into the dark crowd? And there they were: the people who had pushed (maybe slightly forced) you to be there. They looked at you with love and pride, trying to mask their own anxiety for you. They belonged to you; they were your parents.

I remember many moments like this growing up and I long for those moments now when I’m living thousands of miles away. But the kids I work with don’t ever get moments like that. Maybe mom and dad are too busy, or gone completely, or just uninterested. Many of the kids have never been to a soccer practice or a ballet class. The street is where they spend their afternoons. The street and the Ulu Pono Kids Program. They may never hear their parents tell them how proud they were or that it was okay that they dropped the final pass. Often times it just isn’t a part of their culture. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t tell them we are proud of them! So this weekend, that is exactly what we did!

The Ohai Family Festival was a dream that we had cultivated for over a year before it came to pass. Many hours of dreaming, hoping, wishing and planning came to life in a beautiful afternoon. For four hours last Saturda,y everything was about the kids. The games, the prizes, the music, the shave ice. All because we were proud of them and we loved them.

Half way through the afternoon, we awarded each child from the program a “Character Award” they were called up on stage in front of everyone and amazingly there were even some parents in the crowd. They got a hug, a certificate, encouragement and an affirmation by different staff members. Most of them got really shy about it, red cheeked and squirming they got on stage and while they acted like they wanted to run off the stage, I know them better than that. They love, love. Don’t we all?

It’s hard to gauge success when working with kids. How do you measure “getting into less trouble” or “headed on a better path”?   Three days after the festival, I went to pick up a 5 year old boy from his home. I know his parents well and his mom had come to the festival. I walked through the living room that consists of several mattresses and barely enough room to walk and picked up his baby sister out of the crib. That’s when I spotted it. His purple certificate pinned amongst the mess up on the wall. My heart swelled with pride and I choked up as the reality that his parents had taken the time to make sure his award was hung really sunk in. That is the kind of “success” I want to see. The kind that transforms an entire family from the inside out.  -KC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aloha, Clark

Iconic Hawaiian artist Clark Takashima tragically passed away last weekend and here at STN we are saddened by the loss of this friend and supporter. Clark was not only a famous surf artist on the island, but had a heart to give back through his passion. He was a returning headline artist in several of our art shows and generously donated a portion of the sales made to our kids’ program, Ulu Pono.

Mahalo for your contribution to art on the island and being part of inspiring the kids in this at-risk neighborhood to pursue art.

 

Clark working on a collaborative art piece at the Ulu Pono art show in 2012.

Thank You From The Heart

Sometimes when you get into the day-to-day work at a non-profit, it’s hard to see how far you have come – that is until an anonymous someone shows you from a bigger perspective.

We are so grateful for the people that believe in transformation and hope, and  our efforts would be fruitless without them. Below are the contents of a special note we received recently from such a person:

“Mahalo nui loa – Thank you from the heart!”

“Dear Mr. Bauer,

I would like to personally thank you and your Surfing The Nations organization for all of your efforts in transforming Wahiawa.

So much positive changes are occurring right in front of our eyes because of your determined efforts! We are all beginning to set claims and pride on our residency in what is becoming the beautiful Wahiawa we always hope for, despite numerous negative issues.  Your efforts are too often overlooked by us. Many decent businesses are now willing to “chance” Wahiawa while earlier we were overlooked as a possible risk.

Thanks a million.

 

P.S. Recognized your “surfers” scrubbing down the bus stop. Thanks, again!

 

- A Most Appreciative Resident”