UHMC offers a ton of opportunities for students to learn about Hawaiian culture. Whether native Hawaiian, local resident or visitor, it’s a privilege to be able to learn about this lush paradise, its people and its history. Aubrey Matsuura is a gem of an instructor whose execution of Hawaiian History 107 left a profound mark on me. What students receive in this class is an extended and powerful understanding through the lens of Hawaiians and beyond. What I personally received as a part native Hawaiian student was a deep-rooted sense of empowerment that has overall impacted my identity in the greatest way.
Kumu Aubrey Matsuura became inspired about Hawaiian studies while taking Hawaiian language classes at UH Manoa. She went on to major in Hawaiian studies and Hawaiian Language, then got a masters of education in teaching. She has worked for Hawaiian enrichment and educational programs, and found joy in these programs which provided children with cultural opportunities at a young age. So, when the opportunity presented itself for her to teach Hawaiian studies at UHMC, she was thrilled to rise to the challenge of learning the content even more, and to then be able to creatively teach it.
Hawaiian 107 is a survey course which offers an introduction to all aspects of Hawaii’s history. Origin stories, migration and navigation, the history of the language and the ways that people organized themselves and so much more is covered in this course. Learning about the relationship of Hawaiians to their physical environment and the political history of Hawaii was especially intriguing to me. There was so much I didn’t know or understand, yet Kumu Aubrey delivered the information in an enlightening and thought provoking way. I personally feel this course facilitated links and connections within me, and I have a new-found and heightened sense of deep inner clarity as a person of native Hawaiian ancestry. Kumu Aubreys delivery of the message was graceful and impactful.
Q: What do you find most valuable about this course?
“What I find the most valuable about this class is that it’s an opportunity for our community to learn the history of this place, and I think having an understanding gives everyone a little bit more appreciation and a deeper knowing of where we are today. The things that we see in our community are reflective of the history of this place. This information is important whether students are descendants or those who just moved here last month. Theyʻll have an understanding of the history and our familial relationship. It is a great start to understand why we are so passionate and protective of our people and our place.”
Q: Why is this course important for native Hawaiian students in particular?
“I’d like to acknowledge that everyone brings to the class experiences and teachings that they received from their family that have all contributed to who they are. For me, knowing this history and information was so foundational in knowing who I am. Knowing who your kupuna are and learning all that they experienced and what brilliant people they are is important. This course truly empowers me and reconnects me to who I am and where I come from. Growing up, not all of us have access to this information and it can reestablish our connection to our place.”
This class is truly inspiring for anyone who wishes to gain a thorough and well-rounded perspective of Hawaii and I thought it necessary to interview Aubrey for our instructor spotlight. In closing, I hope this article compels anyone- native, transplant or visitor who attends UHMC to seek an understanding and awareness of Hawaii through this content, via Kumu Aubrey Matsuura.