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Fall 2011

Ideas for the World
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Fall 2011 - Feature | Traveling ‘Iolani

‘Iolani Reaches Out Around the Globe

Zimbabwe

Through global connections and common intentions, a group of ‘Iolani School students experienced the rewards of altruism and helped other students half a world away.

This past July, seven boxes of elementary school books left ‘Iolani’s campus destined to arrive in Harare, Zimbabwe where James Bayanai, founder and director of the Zimbabwe Youth Development Foundation, received them. Bayanai made sure the books were placed in the hands of young children there in rural Zimbabwe who desperately need learning materials. Those books have made a huge impact and difference in their educational development.

The books were collected during a fall 2010 book drive conducted by ‘Iolani community service coordinator Allison Ishii ’02 and her student organization Team Service. Seven large boxes of books were shipped via U.S. diplomatic mail through the United States Embassy in Harare which greatly lowered the cost of delivering them and made ‘Iolani’s contribution possible.

How did this come about? In the summer of 2010, six ‘Iolani students (Kaela Shiigi ’11, Kim Chun ’12, Michaela Kamemoto ’12, Lauren Uhr ’13, Maile Greenhill ’13 and Indi Walter ’13) chaperoned by English teacher Peter Greenhill, Co-Director of ‘Iolani’s Mexia Peace Institute, joined about 20 high school and college students from Hawai‘i and American Samoa as delegates to the 5th World Youth Congress in Istanbul, Turkey. The ‘Iolani students participated in workshops with 1,300 students, ranging from 15 to 30-years-old from all over the world, dedicated to implementing the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, which are designed to promote human rights, reduce violence, enhance sustainable development, and provide more health care and education to people worldwide who lack those resources.

Learning from the workshops, making close friendships with young people from countless other countries, and experiencing the culture of Turkey became life changing experiences for the ‘Iolani students. One of the young activists they met was James Bayanai of Zimbabwe who was in his mid-20s but already possessed an impressive background of altruistic activity. 

A working relationship was established leading to ongoing correspondence and projects between the ‘Iolani Peace Institute and Bayani’s foundation. Bayani’s most recent project was the establishment of elementary schools and learning centers in remote  parts of Zimbabwe. His dream is to provide educational materials such as books in English, computer access, and instruction to students who ordinarily have nothing. The ‘Iolani Peace Institute and book drive gave students opportunities to help.

The process that led to the arrival of these books and saw them go into the hands of children in Zimbabwe is a great example of the concrete benefits that can come from the international peace travels that ‘Iolani students are doing every summer in growing numbers. 

The trend began with Peace Project China 2009 and has continued with Peace Project China 2010 and 2011, as well as the 2010 World Youth Congress. Work is already underway to expand ‘Iolani’s international service trips to other countries, and as one can see, those who benefit are both those who give and those who receive.