Instructor Spotlight: Aubrey Matsuura Illuminates and Empowers Through Hawaiian History 107
UHMC offers a ton of opportunities for students to experience Hawaiian culture. Whether you are a Hawaiian, local resident, or visitor, it is a privilege to be able to learn more about this lush paradise, its people, and its history. Aubrey Matsuura is a gem of an instructor whose execution of Hawaiian History 107 made a deep impression on me. What students receive in this class is a broad and powerful understanding through the lens of Hawaiians and beyond. What I personally received as a part-Native Hawaiian student was a deep-rooted sense of empowerment that overall had the greatest impact on my identity.
Kumu Aubrey Matsuura got inspired by Hawaiian studies while taking Hawaiian language classes at UH Manoa. She majored in Hawaiian Studies and Hawaiian Language, then earned a Masters of Education in Teaching. She worked for Hawaiian enrichment and education programs and found joy in these programs that provided children with cultural opportunities at a young age. So when the opportunity arose for her to teach Hawaiian Studies at UHMC, she was thrilled to take on the challenge of learning even more of the content, and then being able to teach it creatively.
Hawaiian 107 is a survey course that provides an introduction to all aspects of Hawaiian history. Origin stories, migration and navigation, language history and how people organized themselves and much more are covered in this course. Learning about Hawaiians’ relationship to their physical environment and Hawaii’s political history particularly intrigued me. There was so much I didn’t know or understand, yet Kumu Aubrey delivered the information in an illuminating and thought provoking way. Personally, I think this course has facilitated connections and connections within me, and I have a new and heightened sense of deep inner clarity as a person of Hawaiian descent. The delivery of the message by Kumu Aubreys was graceful and impactful.
Q: What do you find most valuable about this course?
“What I find most valuable about this course is that it is an opportunity for our community to learn about the history of this place, and I think having an understanding gives everyone a little bit more appreciation and a deeper knowledge of where we are today. The things we see in our community reflect the history of this place. This information is important whether students are descendants or those coming “Moving here last month. They’ll have an understanding of the history and our family relationship. It’s a great start to understanding why we’re so passionate and protective of our people and our place.”
Q: Why is this course important for Hawaiian students in particular?
“I would like to recognize that everyone brings to the course the experiences and teachings they have received from their families, all of which have contributed to who they are. For me, knowing this story and this information was so fundamental to knowing who I am. It is important to know who your kupuna are and to learn all that they have been through and what brilliant people they are. This class is really empowering and reconnecting me to who I am and where I come from. As we grow up, not all of us have access to this information and it can re-establish our connection to our place.
This course is truly inspiring for anyone who wants to gain an in depth and comprehensive perspective of Hawaii and I felt it was necessary to interview Aubrey for our instructor spotlight. In conclusion, I hope this article compels anyone – native, transplant recipient, or visitor who attends UHMC to seek an understanding and awareness of Hawaii through this content, via Kumu Aubrey Matsuura.