Wildfire updates for Monday Aug. 15 are posted: HERE.
Less than a week after the deadly wildfires wreaked devastation in Lahaina and Kula, about 200 University of Hawaiʻi Maui College faculty and staff attended the fall 2023 convocation at the Kahului campus on August 14. The gathering also included the Lānaʻi and Molokaʻi education centers via Zoom.
“We know that everybody is hurting and we want to be respectful of that and give you the space for that and we also want to offer as much support as we can to you as we deal with the devastation,” said Chancellor Lui Hokoana.
UH President David Lassner attended the event in person and thanked everyone for all they had been doing to help.
“Please take care of yourselves, your families and those around you,” Lassner said. “It’s going to be really easy to get impatient as things get tough, and we will all get through this by caring for one another and remembering why we are here and who we rely on and who makes this place so special.”
One of the speakers was Aukahi Austin Seabury, a licensed clinical psychologist and executive director of I Ola Lāhui, which provides culturally minded evidence-based behavioral health care that is responsive to the needs of medically underserved, Native Hawaiian and rural communities.
Processing shock and trauma
Austin Seabury noted that educators are in the business of caring for others, but that most are in the “shock phase” and are themselves processing the trauma of the unprecedented fires.
“One of the things that I ask you to do to take care of yourself is to be real intentional about that consumption of media,” Austin Seabury said. “You guys are dealing with the real situation, with the real humans you love, know and care for, and yourselves.”
She also asked them to commit to the things they had already been doing to stay healthy and to take care of themselves before the fires, such as running or swimming. Social media scrolling is not recommended, however, if they must watch something, they should pick something funny to watch or send cat videos.
“When it comes to grief, you have to give yourself and everybody else a lot of grace,” Austin Seabury said.
Help the helpers
She also suggested they help the “helpers” who are “running themselves ragged right now” and do a “solid” for them, such as picking up their kids.
Hokoana noted that a massive relief effort was already going on in UH Maui College’s kitchens as hundreds of volunteers have been cooking as many as 9,000 meals a day to distribute to shelters and first responders.
Sign up opportunities to help with the meal preparation were being made available to faculty and staff. Hokoana said he has been urging the chefs and volunteers to pace themselves, as the campus could serve as one of the island’s food hubs through the fall semester.
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