"Traveling to this conference brought enrichment to my studies that I could not have found anywhere in our vast online resources."

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Travel Report: Allison Hotti

Allison Hotti, a master's student in the Faculty of Education, received a Graduate International Research Travel Award (GIRTA) to further her research in Hawaii.

September 04, 2019

My name is Allison Hotti and I am Dene, Dunne Za, and Norwegian. I am fortunate enough to be enrolled in a Nature-Based, Place-Conscious Masters of Education program. We have been delving deep into ideas of Indigenous Ways of Being and connection to land. I have also been exploring Indigenous research methods including the Kaupapa Maōri ways.

I heard about the Hawaii International Conference on Education and saw that the keynote speaker’s topic was on the importance of using Hawaiian place names even though we as English speakers may find them awkward. I instantly connected to this idea and wanted to hear him speak. I also noted that there were to be many Maōri scholars in attendance and was hoping to learn more about the Kaupapa research methods.

With the support of this award, I was fortunate enough to be able to travel to the conference. One of the first sessions I attended had a title about learning in place but was actually about learning in community. Though I enjoyed the presentation, it was not the information I had hoped for. Coincidently though I was sitting next to a Maōri scholar from the University of Christchurch who was willing to explain the basics of their research methods. The information he gave me in our informal conversation gave me a deeper understanding of the way of thinking behind the methods and was more useful than hours of online research and reading could possible be. I am very grateful that I sat beside him on this day.

Of all of my time at the conference, the keynote address was my favourite. The presenter was funny and engaging but also extremely knowledgeable in Hawaiian Ways of Being and well (university) educated – it was a refreshing mix.  It was like listening to a beautifully delivered story from a gifted storyteller who was making you challenge your own ways of thinking in a non-threatening yet effective way. He put up a photo of a well-known Hawaiian landmark and asked the audience what its name was. People yelled out “Diamondhead!” He answered, “wrong.” The people from there call it Lei-ah-hi (sp) and he went on to explain the meaning of the name and the creation story of the crater. Next, he put up the picture of another well known landmark (China Hat Island) and asked the name. No one wanted to venture an answer. He told us another beautiful story about a mythical lizard from a time long ago and I was mesmerized for his entire presentation and sad when it ended.

Traveling to this conference brought enrichment to my studies that I could not have found anywhere in our vast online resources. It is like the island had its own information for me and I had to physically be there in order to receive it. I would like to raise my hands in thanks to SFU for supporting my attendance. In my language, Mahsi Cho.