A Semester in Hawai’i

It is a rainy day in Haleiwa, O’ahu—an island on the North Shore of Hawai’i. Eva Lab, 20, and Dylan Young, 19, sit in their pitched tent after a long day working as temps on a farm. Both are students at Eugene Lang College, but now their eight-hour workdays often involve them weeding the land and building fences.

“It’s back-breaking work,” Eva said.

The idea to come to Hawai’i was spontaneous. Eva had visited before, Dylan had not.

Arriving in Hawai’i without a plan in the middle of a pandemic would be stressful to most, but not to Eva and Dylan. Both women have taken precautions to protect themselves from the coronavirus, such as regularly getting tested, wearing masks and carrying sanitary wipes everywhere they go.

Both women camped on the island for two weeks until they found a farm on the North Shore that was seeking work, where have now been working for three weeks.

Eva and Dylan are WWOOFers. They work for the Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms, an organization that works to link organic farmers and visitors (WWOOF).

O’ahu is an island rich in culture and fauna. Yet, there is a dark side to the island. When they arrived, both women noticed the deep-rooted effects of colonialism on the island. The island is immensely segregated; locals reside on the Westside, where the land is dry and barren. Rich, White families that like to golf are seen on the Eastside.

“The White people use it as a vacation spot and the people that actually call it their home, there’s so much poverty, there’s so much homelessness, it’s a huge sex-trade center,” Eva said. “There’s a bubble and then there’s the real world.”

When they finish their time at the farm, both women will go to the northeast side of the island, where they will start their month-long road trip. Low rates of COVID-19 allow the women to explore more of the island. Eva hopes to get her training license as a yoga teacher. Dylan wants to wait tables.

“Everywhere I go, every new environment, every new group of people, every new interaction is a lesson, it’s a teaching situation,” Eva said. “I think that in Hawai’i I’ve realized that the true method of living is personal for everyone and I have to find my own medium and [become a] developed human so I can help others more effectively.”

Eva and Dylan are excited to return to The New School in August. They will bring the experiences they learned with them.