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Saturday, November 10, 2012

Reflections by Joshua



City Tour
We went around the whole city, basically, and managed to see many sights of Hawaii such as the statue of Kamehameha and the Little White House, along with some beaches. These monuments were probably built in order to sustain culture by getting people to remember how Hawaii has come to be what it is today. The statue of course, could be somewhat likened to that of Sir Stamford Raffles' in Singapore, but with gold and probably more expensive. Also, Singapore should probably have more monuments about its history to promote more understanding among citizens, although it might be a problem due to Singapore being relatively young.

Statue of King Kamehameha I


Bishop Museum
The Bishop Museum taught us all about Hawaii, from its gods, to the elites and several kings, even the tools used by the tribes back then when fishing or storing food and such. It definitely helps to sustain understanding of the culture of Hawaii because it shows visitors about a lot of the history of Hawaii and how it has developed by having exhibits about the different leaders and what they had done to allow Hawaii to become what it has become today. Singapore could actually have some sort of a museum to showcase its history to the public, though I doubt that it could be as grand or with that many exhibits, such as the cloaks the elites in Hawaii wore, as the Bishop Museum. Singapore's short history would, like mentioned above, once more be a problem.

Pearl Harbor and the Arizona Memorial
Pearl Harbor taught me about the sustainability of the memories and the importance of peace as well. The U.S.S. Arizona Memorial served to let people remember of the tragic event on 7 December, 1941, where many people - marines, civilians and those in the army, died. This was so they could learn from the mistakes they made that day, such as not being prepared for everything, which in this case was an aerial attack. 

Learning from these mistakes would help people like us in Singapore to be able to minimise the number of casualties in any war that could take place in the future, well, especially with the really small population for the workforce and all. Though in the first place, hopefully there will be no wars anymore once people understand how war can have such devastating effects and human costs.


A picture of the many names of people who lost their lives in the attack of Pearl Harbor 

There were also interesting things about the attack on Pearl Harbor such as how people constantly trained for an attack (though in the end the outcome was far from what was expected of course) and how soldiers were alerted via radio to get back to battle stations during the attack.

Pali Lookout
Pali lookout was definitely one of the most enjoyable attractions that day due to the strong currents of wind blowing in between the two mountains. Apparently, we were also very lucky that day, since our tour guide mentioned that the winds were blowing stronger than they usually were. Of course, it was not without its historical value. The two peaks of the mountains at Pali Lookout were used by the Japanese as landmarks to identify the island when they were going to attack Pearl Harbor.


View from Pali Lookout

The Polynesian Cultural Centre
The Polynesian Cultural Centre (PCC) also taught me about how people preserve and sustain their culture though most cultures are quickly disappearing as the American one is becoming more and more prominent almost all around the globe. The PCC is a non-profit organisation where people from six different tribes: Hawaii, Tonga, Aotearoa, Fiji, Tahiti, and Samoa, all showcase the different tribe practices, ranging from coconut tree climbing to spear tossing. 

In Singapore, we could come up with large scale non-profit organisations such as the PCC, some existing examples being Chinatown and Little India, to showcase our culture to all citizens and make them feel proud about it so that it can continue to live on.


Picture of just one of the six different tribes that comprise the Polynesians, Hawaii

Diamond Head
We all hiked up Diamond Head's, an extinct volcano, crater, which was pretty fun to say the least, especially the part when we went through a tunnel. Sure, the steps were a handful and I was really glad to have taken the easy route upon exiting the tunnel, which did not include as many steps. However, once I got to the top, any fatigue that I had was forgotten. The view sure was incredible from up there and we could even see as far as the next island. 

View from the top of Diamond Head


Small Circle Island Tour
The different places of Oahu has helped to sustain the environment there as well as the diversity there. 

Hanauma Bay
Five years ago, almost all the fish had gone extinct in Hanauma Bay due to many tourists feeding fish and doing what typical tourists do. Alerted by this, the government banned too many visitors from visiting each day, limiting the number to around three hundred, so as to allow the species to recover. This worked and the bans are still in place, along with another limit to the time tourists can spend taking photos of the bay - fifteen minutes. Perhaps something like these bans could be done for the mangroves in Singapore as well to reduce pollution there.

Picture of Hanauma Bay with the mountain resembling a dragon... or a big lizard


Halona Blowhole
This blowhole is unique in the fact that it is formed by a lava tube. According to the tour guide, only if waves hit a certain point, the blowhole will well, blow up. Even if any other spot is hit with a wave, no matter how big or small, the blowhole will not blow up. Of course, it seems likely that this lava tube and the whole blowhole could actually erode over the years. However, I do not think there is any need for actions to prevent it from eroding and to sustain it. This is because the whole geyser would just become lower and lower, since the water only erodes the top of the blowhole and the insides, which could make it wider. I don't think it could totally cut off the whole blowhole from the surface.

Bottom left corner is where the blowhole is, with some steam-like gas escaping from it 
(I didn't manage to get a picture of the water gushing out though)

Sea Life Park
Sea Life Park was interesting, but rather small, since I ran out of attractions and shows to go to not long after I entered. However, the shows they put on such as the sea lion, dolphin and penguin shows were really entertaining. I also learnt how the Sea Life Park did help to sustain certain species which had trouble in their natural environments. For example, the people carrying out the live dolphin shows mentioned that populations of dolphins in the wild were suffering from overfishing, and that dolphins were treated well although in the Sea Life Park. This kind of system could be implemented in Singapore, using the Singapore Zoo, to protect species such as certain snakes and insects which are native to Singapore. The Singapore Zoo is already doing this but not all species they are protecting are from Singapore, in fact, most are from other places around the globe.

Picture of one of the sea lions at Sea Life Park

Waimea Valley
Waimea Valley is an enormous nature reserve, with many structures used long ago when tribes were dominant on the island of Hawaii such as the sleeping quarters of men and women. Also, there were certain areas, like the game area with rolling disks, which helped to give the visitors a more hands-on kind of experience of Hawaiian life in the tribes. There was also a man talking about his different uses of stones, some from which he made pestles. He mentioned how people had to ask for permission of the gods for use of simple things like rocks. They also had to state their mission and their purpose. Should they be with good intent, the gods will sent them a sign, a common one being a wind blowing, which will give them permission to get the rocks. Also, after doing so, one cannot deviate from what he has asked of the gods, for example, if he asked to take this kind of rock, he could not take another kind he stumbled upon while looking for his desired rock.

The 'Family of Rocks' meant to symbolise a real family with the biggest one being the father

Punahou School 
I was paired up with a student of Punahou School, Andrew, following him around campus for his various lessons. First up was Spanish, where I hardly understood a thing and had to use a textbook to participate in the class activity of drawing what a phrase means for someone else to guess it. Next was mathematics, specifically, geometry. The teacher was basically helping the students go through the various properties of the different shapes. I did do one of their worksheets too, discussing with Andrew and the other people at the table, Sarah, Laura and Dylan. Right before break was Medieval History, something absent from Singapore's syllables. We watched a movie, titled 'The Emperor's Club' which was about the values and morals people strived for back then. It was a pity we didn't finish the movie though as it was extremely interesting. The last lesson I had with Andrew was biology. The biology lab was something to be marvelled at. It had many aquariums, one with a large freshwater terrapin, another with various fishes and an eel and one with an endangered species of shrimp. The activities were really engaging because we actually had to taste various foods, ranging from a sweet named 'Sour Punch' to vinegar in order to find out how a berry could change our body's 'sour taste' to sweet.

On the second day, we attended Chinese and Physics classes with several Punahou students. 

All of the lessons were really interesting and engaging. Even the classrooms had several posters on the walls related to the subject. For example, in Spanish class, there were posters of football clubs such as Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid and in Maths class, there was a poster giving a brief history of Blaise Pascal. The teachers teach more through getting students to do things first rather than to tell them the concept straight from the start, which I find is a very useful technique.

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