Hawaiʻi is important to me for innumerable reasons, many of which were decided before I was born and through circumstances that allowed by family to make a home in these islands. My family has been in Hawaiʻi since sometime in the late 1890s when my great-great grandmother Mary Rapoza, as a widow and mother of five, ran a boarding house in Paukaʻa, Hawaiʻi just outside of Hilo. This boarding house would be the circuitous landing spot for my great-grandfather Antone Ferreira who was a stowaway from the Madeira Islands, Portugal. Antone and Mary's eldest daughter, Gloria, would marry and raise eight children in Mountain View, Hawaiʻi. One of these children would be my grandmother Marjorie, who eventually traveled to ʻOahu and married Tony dela Fuente, a Spanish son of bakers who had a passion for boxing and a keen eye for masonry and endless time for fishing and tako diving. These ramshackle children of immigrants, that were my grandparents, fully embraced the American Dream and raised a small family in the neighborhoods of Kaimukī and Palolo. As a result, Hawai'i represents the dreams of my elders, the landing point and intersection of my heritage and the eventual resting place of my beloved family members.
The journey that lays before me in Ireland started in 2015 when a dear and respected friend and colleague asked me, "Do you want to go to Ireland with me?" In retrospect and many months after this initial conversation, I learned that she never thought I would join her in Ireland. Yet, this whimsical trip was perhaps one of the more defining trips I've ever taken. I look forward to this trip with even bigger eyes and a ferocious appetite to be even a little brave like my great-grandparents.
p.s. I'll tell the Ireland and English side of my family in a later post. Hawai'i, to me, is about the drastic changes of the early 19th century, my adventurous and humble elders, and the joining of stories through diverse histories and understandings.
I'm taking this class again to increase my knowledge and connections to Ireland. As a teacher, I need to be a student from time to time in order to better understand the student experience. This allows me to understand my students and grow my teaching prowess.