BLOG: "ʻO ke kahua ma mua, ma hope ke kūkulu" by Sanoe K. Burgess (Summer Intern 2020)
As you read the reflection of our Summer Intern, Sanoe Burgess, you will note her select use of hua ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi (Hawaiian words) throughout her story. Anyone who has had a conversation with Sanoe would know that this is her voice, this is how she speaks, and how she keeps the native language of these islands alive. Because it is our official state language (along with English), after much thought and discussion, the Foundation has decided not to provide any translation aside from what Sanoe has included. The Foundation understands also that it has a broader reach outside the state and encourages anyone unfamiliar with the Hawaiian language to visit the Hawaiian Dictionary, Nā Puke Wehewehe ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi, at http://wehewehe.org/.
ʻO ke kahua ma mua, ma hope ke kūkulu
My time with Hauʻoli Mau Loa Foundation reminds me of one of my favorite ʻōlelo noʻeau, ʻo ke kahua ma mua, ma hope ke kūkulu (Establish the foundation, then grow). Time and time again, I have come to better understand the only way to grow and move forward in life is to first form in a solid foundation. I like to think our kūpuna would agree that relationships are one of the niho that make up the kahua. Indeed, at the foundation of my proudest moments of growth and success in life are my relationships.
From my introduction to Hauʻoli Mau Loa Foundation I knew this was a relationship that deserved cultivation. Connecting to ʻāina and people is my passion, thus, there is no question that my career path will lead me to Hawaiʻi’s nonprofit sector. I have some experience serving in the field through previous internships with Kamehameha Schools and Kupu at sites such as Hoʻokuaʻāina, Hoʻoulu ʻĀina, and Hui Mālama O Ke Kai. In order to get a fuller picture of what my future might hold, I wanted exposure to the nonprofit field from the funder’s perspective. When I explored their website, the Foundation’s mission seemed to match exactly with my interests and needs: the Foundation prioritizes and serves those who are less fortunate, I have a kuleana to give back to my community; the Foundation Partners with organizations who mālama Hawaiʻi’s ʻāina and keiki, I have a deep love for this ʻāina and these people; the Foundation has a yearly summer internship position, I needed a job! Ends up we were a pretty great fit.
In the initial interview with Janis and Brant, I was asked why I was pursuing an internship. With a background in various leadership roles, project management, and serving in the field it would be reasonable to start applying to leadership positions in the nonprofit job market. I was beyond flattered by the question (and also kind of thought I wasn’t going to get the job). My reasoning was that I felt something was missing. With only a limited amount of exposure to the nonprofit arena, my naʻau was telling me that this internship was the last foundational niho to be laid before I could hoʻoulu. I am fortunate to have been selected for this position, to further establish my foundation, and to have been given the chance to better prepare to move forward confidently.
My main goal going into this internship was to make connections. I had expectations that it would be an opportunity to try new things, utilize my current knowledge-base and skills, and establish a stepping stone for what is to come next. Of course, in Hauʻoli Mau Loa Foundation fashion, my experience exceeded expectations. Though my time with the Foundation was brief and completely online, I have made countless connections and gained several future opportunities:
During our one-on-one staff check-ins and weekly staff meetings on Zoom, I got first-hand exposure to what goes on behind the scenes when operating a foundation.
On my first week of the job, I got to share the results of my graduate research project, Communicating Hawaiian Identity: Understanding Hawaiian cultural identity through themes in family narratives (email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d be interested in learning more).
During our bi-weekly ʻāina based education network meetings, I learned from prominent leaders in the nonprofit community such as Uncle Kīhei Nahale-a from KEY project, Aunty Puni Jackson from Hoʻoulu ʻĀina, Aunty Hiʻilei Kawelo from Paepae o Heʻeia (and countless others) about the groundbreaking work they are doing through the organizations and programs they lead.
Through my research for the History of Philanthropy in Hawaiʻi timeline project, I learned about the impactful role of the relationships between aliʻi and missionary-descendant women, a key part of Hawaiʻi’s unique philanthropic history, from Al Castle with the Samuel N. and Mary Castle Foundation.
While attending the 27thannual Hawaiʻi Conservation Conference, though held entirely online, I was still able to connect with and learn from countless upcoming and well-experienced professionals in the field of conservation.
From a partner network meeting, I connected with Heather McMillen and this October I will be working with her team at DLNR DOFAW on their mapping projects through the Kupu ʻĀina Corps program.
With some care and cultivation, these ongoing and newly formed relationships will foster my pursuit in future endeavors. As I grow forward, I will take with me the importance of “putting a capital P in Partnerships,” the significance of leveraging our individual impact through relationships, and a heart-warming memory of when the staff joined together to surprise me with a lei on the morning of my thesis defense at my house! If you are lucky enough to know them, such an act of going above and beyond shouldn’t surprise you. In a time of uncertainty and concern, I am truly grateful to my ʻohana at Hauʻoli Mau Loa Foundation for providing me the opportunity to witness and be a part of the good that prevails in Hawaiʻi. ʻO ke kahua ma mua, ma hope ke kūkulu.