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Educational experience Moriyama Yume continues in veil of pandemic

LIHU‘E — Kaua‘i Museum Director Chucky Boy Chock looked at the gated Lihu‘e Civic Center Thursday afternoon.

“The students are supposed to be in the conference room,” Chock said. “It’s a good thing I pre-recorded my presentation.”

Chock was supposed to be part of the inaugural Zoom classes for Moriyama Yume (translated to mean “dream”) Project that was taking place at the Mo‘ikeha Building conference room with Mayor Derek Kawakami and project coordinators Art and Michiru Umezu of Sakura System and Zoom technician and videographer Ryland Balbin.

Under the constraints of the pandemic, the five-day educational exchange program between Kaua‘i and Moriyama, Japan was reduced to just two days and limited to video exchanges via Zoom. Thursday marked the return of Project Yume, which was not held for the past two years.

“Moriyama City is one of Kaua‘i’s sister cities since 1975,” Art Umezu said. “Moriyama Yume Project was created in 2019 with three high-school students visiting Kaua‘i and attending classes at Kaua‘i High School.”

The pandemic forced people to stay at home, and Moriyama Mayor Kazuhiro Miyamoto created the intensive, two-day, online educational exchange that ended Friday afternoon.

During the exchange, seven Moriyama students got to learn about Kaua‘i history (including Prince Kuhio, who was celebrated with a holiday Friday), introductory Hawaiian language, hula, mele and conversational English. A virtual tour of Kaua‘i and a scenic photo gallery of Kaua‘i on video was also featured.

Art Umezu said the program was inspired by Miyamoto’s three trips to Kaua‘i since his first trip in 2012.

“He was overwhelmed by Kaua‘i’s hospitality when he and his delegation participated in ‘ukulele, singing and hula class hosted by Uncle Herman Paleka and the Kaua‘i kupuna at the Lihu‘e Neighborhood Center,” Umezu said. “When he returned to Moriyama, he wanted people, especially children, to experience aloha like he did on his Kaua‘i trip. He invited Kaua‘i Rainbow, a hula group with two ‘ukulele musicians, to perform at nine elementary schools in Moriyama, a feat the group accomplished by performing to more than 5,000 children.”

The seeds of Moriyama Yume Project took root on Moriyama’s visit in 2016, when he met with the Kaua‘i Rotary Club and Kaua‘i students who studied in Moriyama under a one-year student-exchange program that started in the 1970s and continued for more than 30 years.

In 2019, the inaugural group of Moriyama students were selected through an English-proficiency contest sponsored by Moriyama International Friendship Association, Moriayama Education Board and Moriyama City.

Moriyama Yume Project has support from the Kaua‘i Office of the Mayor, county Office of Economic Development, state Department of Education Kaua‘i District Office and Kaua‘i Museum.

Kaua‘i participants in Moriyama Yume Project include Chock, retired Kaua‘i High School teacher James Yamamoto, musician Nick Castillo, hula dancer Ashlee Miyashiro, who was a member of the Kaua‘i Rainbow that participated in 2013, Kapa‘a High School English teacher Kara Higa, Hawaiian-language teacher Kekoa Tango, and Kate Mie Nakamura, who hosts the photo-gallery tour.

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Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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