It’s tough to think that I’ve been here for two months, as I am still collecting my thoughts about this internship and tracing its lessons to my goals. Hawaii has made me feel both isolated and connected. When hurricane Darby soaked our house and whipped the trees outside last weekend, it seemed like I was stranded. On a central-Pacific archipelago, where can you go when the storm surrounds you? The other Hawaiian Islands are too close to be unaffected and too far to reach unaided.
Scrambling across Hawaii’s jagged, hot magma rocks with camera equipment felt like an endurance test. A thick midday heat microwaved me as I hiked towards our group, each step unsure in my damp, sunscreen-stained reef shoes. When I caught up, they had laid out the study area and were moving to the bottom of a ten-foot cliff. Waves crashed against the citizen scientists as they counted flat urchins and varieties of limpet. The snorkeler’s boat floated in the distance, its crew just beneath the deep-blue surface counting reef fish along their transect. I worked as they did: the irregular rocks that made my walk difficult offered many vantage points for footage. From a hand moving across wet stones to teammates steeling themselves for the next ocean surge, I tried to capture the monitoring process’ many elements. And as each shot and interview came together, our final piece became that much more real.
In our office, my work on the recreational fishing project has continued in fits and starts. Some days yield interesting developments and information, others hit roadblocks beyond our control. In a complex effort with numerous actors outside the main team, it’s important to keep timetables open. I’ve found remaining peaceful yet driven is crucial to professional success in many ways, and channeling that spirit here has kept me focused.
The morning after Darby, sunlight bathed our neighborhood and chased the puddles into pavement. Local flame trees’ red blossoms burned richly in the warm brightness. Our manicured streets, our ridges, and our iconic beaches had weathered the storm. I couldn’t escape the danger, but I could trust this place. I felt connected to Oahu then, another soul among the million who let the island carry them through.