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Edward Chun

From ProjectFocus Hawai‘i and the Wahiawa Community Based Development Organization (WCBDO) comes a visual storytelling, from both ends of life — as partners — Crossing Bridges.

On a sunny Saturday morning, students from Leilehua High School, Wahiawa Middle School, Island Pacific Academy and George Washington University sat down with 24 of Wahiawa’s most cherished ku¯ puna, who shared their stories of growing up and living in this former plantation town located in Central O‘ahu.

Life in Wahiawa has changed since its plantation days and it is for that reason Crossing Bridges was selected as Project- Focus Hawai‘i’s latest exhibit, so these memories could be captured and shared with the broader community. The exhibit title represents both a literal and figurative expression of this project. Not only does it signify the connection of bridges that bring residents and visitors into Wahiawa, it also reflects the importance of bridging generations through the sharing of oral histories.

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Shaianna “Shai” Niccole Llarinas

While life in Wahiawa was economically difficult, it was also culturally rich. The ku¯ puna shared their childhood memories about Wahiawa with their assigned student. Their stories revealed a simpler time, when kids could entertain themselves without the benefit of technology — or television, for that matter. These ku¯ puna shared stories from their “small kid days”— picking pineapple in the middle of a red dirt field, making their own toys or seeing the Japanese planes flying overhead as they attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

As with all ProjectFocus Hawai‘i programs, photography is an integral part of the storytelling process. As the students documented the oral history, they also captured visual portraits of these elders. The photos and stories, along with the photos taken of the students by ProjectFocus Hawai’i co-founders Callies and Lisa Uesugi, were paired to form the basis for the exhibit.

Crossing Bridges made its community debut on Dec. 10, 2016, at a reception at the Wahiawa Hongwanji Church.

“We were very pleased to have this opportunity to highlight our outstanding seniors and their contributions to our community,” said Darin Uesugi, president of WCBDO. “Wahiawa is a hidden gem with much to offer by way of history, culture and business. We look forward to sharing these wonderful stories with the broader community.”

Crossing Bridges is currently on display at the Davies Pacific Center Mezzanine until Feb. 3, 2017. The exhibit will be displayed at various venues on O‘ahu throughout the year.

For current information about Crossing Bridges, go to www.projectfocushawaii.com.

 


PROJECTFOCUS HAWAI‘I INC.
A nonprofit organization established in 2005 as a means
of giving at-risk children and others with challenges, including
our aging population, a healing voice through the
medium of photography.
For information and to view our gallery of images, go to
www.projectfocushawaii.com.

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