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Oak Leaves

February 19, 2016

Hawaii_by_Larissa_Valdez
LEI-ING LOW Students on the Hawaii January Session trip show off their festive neckwear. Photo courtesy of Larissa Valdez.

Psych Class Says 'Aloha' in January Session

Karen Kanyike

A group of psychology students said “Aloha!” in January as they traveled to Hawaii to study and enjoy the culture. Snorkeling in the crater lake of the extinct volcano, Molokini, watching the sunrise at Haleakala Volcano, lounging on Waikiki beach, hiking Diamond Head Crater, and whale watching during the Humpback whale calving season were just some of their activities.

On January 9, 2016, Dr. Rusty Coulter-Kern with his Culture and Psychology class and Dr. Marcie Coulter-Kern with her Social Psychology class set off for Oahu, the third largest, and Maui, the second largest of the Hawaiian islands. While on Oahu, they explored various cultural and historical sites like Pearl Harbor and the Polynesian cultural center. “Students had to do research before we left,” RustyCoulter-Kern said. “They were on teams of two or three and each one had to do research on a topic related to Polynesian culture; for example, comparing mainland United States education system to the Polynesian education system, healthcare in Hawaii versus healthcare in mainland United States, [generally] a variety of topics related to their major interests.”

Marcie Coulter-Kern added that the trip encouraged students to learn more about themselves and how they interact with others. “Students were able to look at how cultures influence other cultures,” she said.

Senior Hannah Glenn, a psychology major and Spanish minor from Indianapolis, Ind., found the trip to be exciting. “My two favorite parts are a tie between snorkeling at the Molokini Crater with the Pacific Whale Foundation and watching the sunrise at Haleakala, close to 10,000 feet above sea level,” she said. “This trip took me 35 feet deep into the ocean where I could hear the whales ‘sing their song’ and up into the clouds where I had the clearest view of the night sky I've ever had.”

The classes spent most of the trip on Maui, where they explored the historic nature of a whaling town that has now become, as Rusty Coulter-Kern said, an ecotourism haven featuring eco-friendly snorkeling, diving, and whale watching.

He continued to talk about the nature of the economy in Hawaii. “The primary exports of Hawaii [come from] agriculture,” he said. “We visited the Dole plantation [where pineapples are grown], a lavender farm, a goat farm and MauiGrown, a residential coffee plantation.”

Sydney Brobst, a sophomore elementary education major from Alexandria, Ind., enjoyed her adventures in Maui. “Surfing was my favorite part,” she said. “It was one of the most surreal experiences of my life, and something that I have had on my bucket list since I was ten. When you surf, you have to completely let go and give the control to the ocean.”

Senior Chelsie Fisher, an educational studies and communication studies double major from Columbia City, Ind., also appreciated her stay in Hawaii. “I loved getting to know everyone better,” she said. “By the end of our trip we were calling each other our family members because like the Hawaiian culture says we are Ohana [which means] family and our professors became known as ‘mom’ and ‘dad.’”