Our Islands, Our Future

Maui High School graduate Marie Alexie Sijalbo visited Hana for the first time this summer. Sijalbo said she liked what she saw as she traveled for the first time to the remote part of East Maui as a member of the Youth Alliance. “I have never gone camping before and this experience has made me see what I have been missing out on,” she said. Accompanied by Maui Economic Development Board staff, Sijalbo joined other high schoolers and rode a bus to Hana as part of the Youth Alliance’s “capstone” event for school year 2011-2012. The trip’s highlights featured kumu Francis Sinenci and his presentation on hale building, swimming at beaches and hiking trails in Hana.

Adam Skelton, a soon-to-be-senior at Kumu Wai Mauloa Academy, said he found a new respect for the Hawaiian culture. “Learning the old ways and how we can apply them to our ways now is a valuable lesson,” he said. Sinenci shared his knowledge of hale building and the use of natural materials including leaves and wood. “When I learned all of these things I realized that hale building is more complicated than I thought,” Maui High 2012 graduate Cyndi Segundo said. “However it is something that the Hawaiians did in the past and it is important for us to preserve it.” Skelton agreed. “It is important for us to pass along this knowledge that we have learned and keep the culture and history alive for future generations.”

The opportunity to swim in pristine water, hike in lush surroundings and bond with other Youth Alliance members made the Hana visit even more enjoyable. A Youth Alliance member of three years, Skelton encouraged others to join. “Not only for the knowledge that you will gain, but the friends that you will make,” he said. Youth Alliance members in grades 9 through 12 gather during the school year to explore facets of the Maui community. The behind-the-scenes look is accompanied by projects and activities that give participants opportunities to see how the Maui community works. For more information about the free program, contact Willow Krause at 875-2432 or e-mail