Intergenerational Learning at Soto Mission
By Jack Kiyonaga, Reporter
Kupuna are learning to navigate technology in classes taught by Molokai High students at Molokai’s Guzeiji Soto Mission. The Buddhist temple in Kaunakakai has opened a new space dedicated to kupuna and community that includes an internet hotspot. The project is funded by a $11,500 Community Challenge Grant from AARP Hawaii.
The Guzeiji Soto Mission, partnered with the Krause Family Foundation ‘Alana Ke Aloha, used the grant to purchase necessary equipment including a Wi-Fi hotspot, tables and benches, according to a press release from the AARP.
The goal of the new program is for Molokai High School students to teach kupuna to use their devices and gain easier access to technology. In such a way, the mission can be “a gathering place for everyone on Molokai from keiki to kupuna,” as explained in the release.
Lisa Takata, the president of the Guzeiji Soto Mission, explained that “we hope to be a gathering place.”
“You don’t have to be Buddhist. You don’t have to be a member of the church. You can come and access the hotspot,” she said in the release.
The grant has allowed for an “intergenerational approach” to teaching technology. MHS students from Michael Onofrio’s digital media class have been able to share their practiced tech knowledge with eager kupuna.
“They [kupuna] learn real fast and they’re energetic trying to learn new things. I really like it,” said MHS senior Quedin Bumatay in the press release.
More than simply educational, the grant has allowed for relationships to transpire.
“There’s a lot of conversations. I learn from them as much as they learn from us. When I explain the lesson and they get a spark in their eye. They’re so excited. They’re smiling. They’re like, ‘oh wow I didn’t know that,’” said Bumatay.
Kupuna, likewise, have acknowledged the significance of this new program.
“I just found out there are so many easier ways to get on the Internet.in just a couple of little steps. Whereas before I was just kind of stumbling through it,” explained Molokai kupuna Lopaka Morin in the press release. “To have a place like this to go to is great because things on Molokai since the pandemic has almost become dust, disappeared. To be able to have the temple and people to migrate to for information, to get information and to be able to have friends and culminate each other’s friendship, this is the place. It’s great, it really is.”
In addition to the technology classes, the Soto Mission will begin hosting beginner Japanese language classes with Lisa Kim starting in March, from 4-5 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.