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Chancellor’s remarks at the PacYES conference

Collage of photos taken at the Pacific Youth PAC YES Empowerment for Success conference. Dancers, weavers, looking through microscope, group photo, Mayor Mitch Roth at podium.
Photos from the 10th annual Pacific Youth Empowerment for Success (PacYES) conference, Oct 7, held at UH Hilo. Activities included workshops, discussions, dance, scientific exploration, navigation displays and more. At top center is Mayor Mitch Roth delivering opening remarks. (Courtesy photos from PacYES)

Chancellor Bonnie D. Irwin delivered these remarks at the 10th annual Pacific Youth Empowerment for Success (PacYES) conference, Oct 7, 2023, University of Hawai‘i at Hilo campus. Learn more about the event at UH Hilo Stories.

Aloha mai kākou,

Hōʻoia ʻĀina (Land Acknowledgement Statement)

He kalahea kēia a ke Kulanui o Hawaiʻi ma Hilo, mai ke Keʻena o ke Poʻo Kulanui:
He honua ʻōiwi ʻo Hawaiʻi nona ka poʻe ʻōiwi o ka ʻāina, ʻo ia nā kānaka Hawaiʻi. Aia kēia kulanui ma kēia ahupuaʻa ʻo Waiākea, ma ka moku ʻo Hilo. Kū nō ke Kulanui o Hawaiʻi ma Hilo i ka hoʻohiki a Ke Kulanui o Hawaiʻi e hoʻoulu i ke ola o ke kaiāulu ʻōiwi ma o ka hana kālaʻike ma nā kahua kula he ʻumi o ka ʻōnaehana papahana hoʻōiwi kulanui i kapa ʻia ʻo Hawaiʻi Papa O Ke Ao. He leo aloha kēia i ka poʻe a pau e ʻākoakoa ana i ʻaneʻi.

Aloha mai kākou.


On behalf of the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, the Office of the Chancellor acknowledges the following:
Hawaiʻi is an indigenous space whose original people are today identified as Native Hawaiians. The university is in the land division called Waiākea, in the district of Hilo. The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo aligns with the University of Hawaiʻi System’s commitment to fostering the wellbeing of indigenous communities through academic processes put into effect with the ten-campus, system-wide transformation called Hawaiʻi Papa O Ke Ao. This land acknowledgement welcomes everyone who gathers here.

Greetings to all.

I am honored and thrilled to welcome you all to the UH Hilo campus. We pride ourselves on being one of the most diverse campuses in the country and, even more, that this diversity of people feel welcome on our campus and in our community.

Today you will hear about the rich array of opportunities before you. Listen with intention. Think and dream about what your voyage will be. At your local university and your local college here on Hawaiʻi Island, you have teams of people ready and waiting to help you realize those dreams. Here we can bring the world for you and also send you out into the world. You can nurture your island values through ʻāina-based education and carry them with you to study on the continent or internationally, all while being a student at UH Hilo.

I was at a meeting Monday where we were talking about how we can create an environment which will inspire and allow more of our Hawaiʻi Island students to stay here to live and work, and importantly, thrive. Those of us who live on islands know a lot about surviving—volcanoes, hurricanes, and many of your kūpuna also know about thriving. They valued what they had and did not worry so much about what they lacked. They honored the expertise of those in their community, those who fished, those who grew the taro, those who made the kapa. Each role was honored, each was valued.

Today we have lost some of those values of resilience, honor, and respect, but you have those values within you, and they are your strength, your mana. When you bring that mana to your educational journey, it will mean more to you, and it will help you thrive.

When I was thinking about what I might share with you, I thought I would tell you the story of an Algebra II quiz I took where I missed every single question. I really struggled with algebra in school, but I stand before you today as a university chancellor! The lesson here is that we all have challenges, but we all can overcome those challenges.

There is an old saying, the more you learn the less you understand. That is okay. The world is a complicated place. Each of us, no matter where we come from and how far we have come, each of us not only has the opportunity to learn, but also the responsibility to teach. As you continue your educational and life journey, don’t be afraid to explore, learn as much as you can, and teach others what you know. Connect learning and life with aloha.

That is how we survive; that is how we thrive.

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