ALMOST everyone who leaves Hawaii talks about how it is so hard to leave paradise and how difficult it is to settle anywhere else when you have grown up in the presence of such pristine beauty.
where the hope is
I couldn't agree more.
I am a junior at Smith College who was born and raised in Hawaii. When New England's snow becomes too much to bear or the cold rain dampens my spirit, I find consolation in my memories of the beautiful beaches, the blue skies and the different food and music influenced by the blend of cultures that define Hawaii.
These memories always pull me home during my breaks and it makes me wonder when I'll ever be old enough to lead my own life without ever thinking of home or of my past. As of right now, it feels as if I can never fully separate myself from the place where I grew up, the place that knows me better than anyone else, the place where my heart always belongs.
"Home" -- that word means so much when you are far away. As much as I want to return to Hawaii during those icy winter storms and those cold, rainy afternoons, I find a barrier that prevents me from doing so.
THERE has been criticism of local students studying on the mainland, who fail to return home and contribute to the society that nutured them. In truth, many feel unwelcome.
Opportunities in Hawaii are limited, and I have heard rumors from friends and their families, my own family, and from teachers, that many Hawaii companies and institutions do not hire University of Hawaii graduates. This is one of the reasons so many of us decide to leave for mainland colleges. A degree from a prestigious mainland school is believed to ensure a job after graduation.
Also, with the state budget cuts at the UH, there is not only a shortage of classes, but of good faculty and staff, forcing us to look elsewhere for a school that will promise us more. If the state doesn't even want to support or claim us as its own, why stay? Why not find a place that will give us a chance to use our abilities and talents and settle there?
We want opportunities. We want to be able to express ourselves and to eventually have the chance to take care of a place that took good care of us when we were young. Yet this same place is shutting us out.
We leave for other schools because those institutions nurture our minds and help us develop and mature. We leave so that we may come back, become leaders and contributors to Hawaii.
THE improvement of the UH and Hawaii's education system in general will not only help the children of the state and encourage them to stay, but it will also help our economy. Strong, determined minds will help better build, sustain and lead the islands economically, politically and socially. We would not leave because there would be no reason to do so.
To prevent us from leaving Hawaii, Hawaii must not shut us out. Our schools must promise to teach us the best, to develop our talents and believe in our capabilities.
There are no easy answers or solutions, but I hope that my contribution will force those heading Hawaii's institutions to see and reexamine the kind of policies that work against the state's youth and therefore, its future.
By establishing a solid, substantial education system in Hawaii, opportunities will open up and allow those of us who left to feel safe and secure in returning home once again.
Eve Yeung is a 1994 graduate of Maryknoll High School,
majoring in English at Smith College in Northampton, Mass.
Rant & Rave is a Tuesday Star-Bulletin feature
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