Our journey and exploration with Place-Based Cultural Projects began in 2007, with PALS - our afterschool program - with a grant from the US ED NHEP (Native Hawaiian Education Program). Our mission was to explore strategies that students would find engaging, culturally relevant, and meaningful – during out-of-school time (OST). We wanted to explore whether engaging and culturally relevant learning opportunities afterschool can impact students’ school performance. Yes, it can impact school performance. But, we learned so much more. As we developed relationships with community organizations, it became apparent how alive students became when they were engaged with community organizations; when they learned more about their community – their place. So together we all explored and learned of the incredible depth and wealth of cultural capital, intellectual capital, and spiritual capital. The more students were able to access this capital, the more curious, engaged, and positive they grew. During the first year, we served one school and 35 students. We grew each year.
Teachers noticed the difference, too. Teachers started making comments about wanting to be able to provide these kinds of learning experiences during the regular school day. After several talk stories with the teacher, we applied for our first PLACES grant. In 2012, PLACES began. Our journey has encountered many bumps in the road, but far more joyful and heartfelt moments with students, teachers, and the community. PALS and PLACES students have engaged in and produced amazing projects – from stop motion animation plays to presenting a water resolution at the Annual Native Hawaiian Civic Club Conference. We are as committed as ever to place-based teaching and learning. It provides culturally relevant experiences for our students. It provides deeply intentional connections and real challenges and learning for both student and teacher. And, these connections with place highlight the necessary interdependence of school and community – and allows the best of each to emerge.
Dr. Kay Fukuda
Place-based Learning And Community Engagement in School
Place-based Afterschool Literacy Support
University of Hawai'i at Mānoa
Student Equity, Excellence & Diversity (SEED)
2600 Campus Rd., QLSSC 413
Honolulu, HI 96822