Book Review: A President From Hawaii
Dr. Carolan and Joanna Carolan have put together a beautiful book that shows the influence Hawaii had on Barack Obama, who grew up there and later became the first president of that state.
The less than seventy pages are not only beautifully illustrated, but also clearly express the values held by the Hawaiian people, both in their language and in English. These include:
1. Education: Obama went to school in Punahou and is known as “askamai” or smart. He has said that his experience there supported him and allowed him to grow and prosper.
2. Religion: Although the eight islands that make up the Hawaiian chain are small, there is always room for people of different faiths to build churches. The word “Mana” describes the Hawaiian belief that divine spirit or power is in every person, rock, and flower.
3. History: Before Hawaii became the fiftieth state in the United States, it was ruled by a monarchy. Hawaii has had both positive and negative experiences over the years. For example, the war started when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. He won the Olympic gold and now one of the Hawaiians has become president.
5. Tradition: The lei is a garland or necklace that is made with flowers, shells, leaves or other materials and is given as a symbol of affection or respect. This is just one of the ways that the Hawaiian people demonstrate their uniqueness.
4. Environment: Due to the rains, Hawaii has had great success growing sugar cane and other crops. Hawaiians also enjoy the lush and tropical surroundings they have, which include mountains and oceans. Everyone is taught to protect and care for the earth as a duty.
5. Family: Everyone in Hawaii is treated like family (Ohana). Each child is appreciated and the elders (kapuna) are honored. Obama was particularly influenced by his maternal grandmother, who set a good example and sacrificed herself for him. She often refers to the multicultural diversity of her own family. His sister is half Indonesian. His brother-in-law is Chinese. Some brothers and sisters are African.
6. Attitude: Mahalo means respect and gratitude. From an early age, Hawaiian children are taught not only to use the word, but to understand its meaning. Kokua means helping do something and Obama has learned to encourage people to work together because that’s the Hawaiian way. They also value conflict resolution, speaking, listening, and forgiveness.
This interesting book also has a CD in which the main story is told and Hawaiian music is sung.
My daughter bought this book for me when she was on vacation in Maui. I greatly enjoyed the simple yet beautiful way the authors have told the story of not only Hawaii, but also the way Hawaii has influenced Barack Obama, who became the first Hawaiian-born president (kama aina means native ).