Commitment to Community – A Participant Spotlight on Yolanda Rivers

Over twenty-five years ago, founders Alice Kawakami, Sherlyn Franklin-Goo, and Kathy Au recognized the need to provide the Nānākuli-Wai‘anae Coast community with an education deserving of all our keiki. Alice Kawakami’s “Where I Live there are Rainbows: Cultural Identity and Sense of Place” clearly articulates the need for rooted educators that are connected to their home, culture, and an understanding of their purpose and kuleana. INPEACE’s Ka Lama, the seed of hope the founders planted all those years ago, has germinated, matured and flowered, nurturing up and coming educators and helping to sustain the passion and commitment of veteran teachers. 

Yolanda Rivers is one of many fruits from this tree. She earned her Associate of Science in Teaching through Leeward Community College, and Bachelor of Education through University of Hawaiʻi at West O‘ahu. What institutions could not teach her, that which was innate, is her love for home and commitment to her community. Enduring through a disempowering education process, it was her love and commitment to community that drove her persistence. Ka Lama nurtured her will to succeed, brainstormed alternative paths to the finish line, identified ways to overcome barriers to PRAXIS thus empowering Yolanda’s determination. 

Enduring through a disempowering education process, it was her love and commitment to community that drove her persistence.

This underscores Kawakami’s advocacy of rooted relevant education and systems of support, “For the Hawaiian learner, learning is situated, located in a sense of place (the specific region of the island), a view of connections across time (linking the past, present, and future), and relationships with family members (grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and siblings). This context-dependent perspective honors and grows from valuing the land and the extended family…”. 

Ka Lama’s intentionality in building core relationships, nurturing them and always looking to the assets in our community is key to supporting the success of our students. Institutions and program partners have become extended family through our work with and in support of each participant. 

The current teacher shortage is a crisis of epic proportion. Ka Lama remains rooted to water the seeds of hope planted by our founders, and looking forward, seeing many like Yolanda in our community. 

If you are interested in participating in INPEACE’s Ka Lama program or would like more information, please contact Angela at (808) 696-9300 or angelah@ inpeace.org. 

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