Hawaii Literacy and Being Smart Cool

Yesterday I traveled to the west side of Oahu-Waianae Coast to be exact to attend an orientation for Hawaii Literacy.

Driving along the Waianae Coast

Since I have time on my hands, I wanted to volunteer for an organization that I found interesting.  I am a book lover and love to read (at least 3 books a month) and thought tutoring an adult with literacy problems would be the best way to spend my time.
photo via Maile’s Blog
I grew up in Kalihi, which is more urban than Waianae and not as pretty.  People on the Waianae Coast are just minutes from the gorgeous beaches they have on the west side.  In Kalihi you are surrounded by noise and just beyond a concrete jungle.  If I do the tutoring program with Hawaii Literacy (there is a 4 day training to complete first)-I’d love to help out in Kalihi.  Waianae’s great too, but I know Kalihi better.
There were about ten people at orientation, 8 women, 2 men (which is the going rate for all non-profit volunteer programs out there-more women volunteer than men).  The adult literacy tutoring program at Hawaii Literacy helps people who already know how to read and speak English already but do it on a basic level.  The people that sign up for tutoring need help with reading, speaking and writing BETTER.  The statistic is 1 in 7 people that have problems with literacy, either they dropped out of school to early, had parents with literacy problems already and many other factors.
I do realize two places got mentioned a lot: Waianae and Kalihi.   😦  Being from Kalihi, I knew what they were talking about.
My dad has a 6th grade education from the Philippines, so in effect, he would fall in the category of these people with literacy problems.  He knows English and even reads the newspaper, but he doesn’t understand some words.  Because I saw him read the paper everyday (and he still does)…I picked up a love of reading, daily, despite his basic comprehension of the English language.  He works in construction-which means he functions in society with limited literacy, but I remember going to stores with him while I was young and he made me look for things because he didn’t know how to spell certain things.  It’s why I admire my parents.  They came to a foreign country with basic language skills and made a life for themselves!  Alright mom and dad!  
It just so happens that my sister and I love books growing up.  Crave books.  We still do.  I’m trying to teach my nephews to love reading and they do!  My sister has Jacob read at least three books a day.  Josh and I help create stories with them, we even now make the books for them so they can see themselves IN the book.  
It’s such a basic thing to read and write well, but most of us don’t utilize the education that was freely given to us (I say free because I went to public school-Farrington!).  You know in school when people thought it wasn’t cool to be a smart or a nerd?…but as an adult, being a nerd is cool because your kids, your family and your co-workers look up to you?  
If kids only knew that it’s okay to be SMART when you are young.  You can be cool and still be smart.  You can be tough and all badass and still know how to read or excel in classes.  You can be pretty, popular and a nerd-now that’s a triple threat.  You can be the party girl and still get good grades.  No one said you had to be ONE or the OTHER, kids should open their minds and be EVERYTHING they want.  They should take advantage of free education because College is so not free. I wish it were.
Smart should be the new “cool” for everybody.  School should BE the new “cool” for everybody. Learning should be something your heart is always desiring and your body and mind is always rising up to the challenge for.  
We all have our weaknesses in education, but you should always let your strengths shine.  

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