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Monday, August 25, 2014

Wisdom of the Elders Pillars of Peace Conference

In last weeks edition of MidWeek, the cover story highlighted the upcoming “Wisdom of the Elders Pillars of Peace” conference which will focus on peace, compassion and ethical leadership.

Coming to Hawaii to participate in the conversation are three very impressive “elders,” each of whom has much to say and offer as we try to find more equitable and peaceful solutions to worldwide issues ranging from starvation, inequality, war and global terrorism.

Hina Jilani (61 years young), is a Co-founder of Pakistan’s first all-female legal aid practice and has been active for decades in movements for peace, women’s equality and human rights.  Joining her are Archbishop Desmond Tutu (83 years young), a South African social rights activist and defender of human rights and Gro Harlem Brundtland (75 years young), the former Prime Minister of Norway, and international leader in the area of sustainable development and public health.  Together, they will lead a conversation for students, teachers, and members of the public this week from August 28 – Aug 31 at the Hawaii Convention Center.

Our world faces numerous challenges, which are magnified by a universal lack of trust, cultural misunderstandings, social and economic inequities, militarism, terrorism and fundamentalist dogmatism.  Who better to lead a conversation with a focus on peace, compassion and ethical leadership than the “Elders,” who have devoted their lives to bringing about peaceful and equitable solutions to the many challenges we face.

The Elders, as described by Mid-Week, “…use their collective wisdom, experience and influence to support peace building, address major causes of human suffering, and promote the shared interests of humanity.” 

Personally, I have learned a great deal from the elders in my life.  This week, I feel incredibly fortunate to have been given the opportunity to learn from and reflect with three “Elders” who continually strive to bring about positive change.  Mahalo to the Hawaii Community Foundation and the Omidyar Ohana Fund for making the Pillars of Peace a reality for Hawaii.

Monday, January 27, 2014


Webster's dictionary defines Illumination as: "light that comes into a room, that shines on something."  Reflecting on our incredible group of talented students at Assets, I like to think of our upcoming Illumination event as a celebration of our students who, without exception, light up our classrooms on a daily basis.

Each year, over 500 parents, friends, and colleagues attend Illumination, enjoying great food, great shopping, and great company, while generously contributing to our schools commitment to socio-economic diversity.  By doing so, they are honoring and respecting the idea of equal educational opportunity.  Year after year we recommit ourselves to providing a strong, researched based multi-sensory program to as wide a socio-economic spectrum as possible, knowing that by doing so we are supporting the unique individuality of our population of gifted, talented learners, who happen to learn differently.

The event is so much more than merely a means of raising tuition assistance, it benefits every student, every family, and everyone in our community in need of our unique expertise and resources.  The event is a celebration of who we are and the meaningful work that we do, and a celebration of our everyday heroes - our students.  The event is a reminder that, "Children Are Our Greatest Assets."

Whenever I walk around campus or observe in classrooms, I'm consistently taken aback by the combination of genius and creativity along with an endearing awkwardness among our students.  Most of whom have remarkable strengths that have gone unrecognized in other school settings. I feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to watch these fine, unique, individuals grow and learn as they come to recognize their strengths, as well as their personal challenges, in a way that allows them to become superb self advocates.

Our students illuminate our campus with their compassion, sensitivity, and respect for differences. They illuminate our campus with their poetry, photography, athleticism, creativity, and academic excellence in a wide variety of subjects. They illuminate our campus by being themselves in our accepting, non-judgmental setting.

I hope you will join me on March 7th at the Hawaii Convention Center in celebrating our amazing students by joining the fun at Illumination. You'll have a great time, while supporting a noble mission and helping well deserving, wonderful students.