Bronson Ho’omaikai Afong, a student at Blanche Pope Elementary in Oahu, Hawaii, read and responded to the YES! Magazine
"Blessings Revealed" by Puanani Burgess. He is our Powerful Voice winner for the Spring 2011 writing competition.
Writing prompt: What is your gift? How do you share it?
By Bronson Ho’omaikai Afong
Our class read “Blessings Revealed,” by Puanani Burgess. We were given an assignment to reflect and respond to the questions: What is your gift? How do you share it? The article speaks about things that we are familiar with because we are Hawaiian. We do not take our gifts for granted as we know that our gifts help to keep our culture alive.
My gift is kamaehu. Kamaehu means resilience, or the power to bounce back. Resilience and the power to bounce back means that if I am having a bad day or feeling sad, I have the power to come back strong and happy! To me, it’s like being given the power to overcome the sorrow and hard times that I am facing. I have a choice in what I want to be and how I want to feel. An example of a day or situation I just explained was when I was little, I would sometimes be put down, but to me, those were just words. Yes, words can hurt, but still, I have a choice. I would just go on with my day.
Another gift I think I have is lokomaikai. Lokomaikai means compassion. An example of how I exemplify lokomaikai is when a new classmate came to the fifth grade and everyone called him stink or told him he smelled like poop, I didn’t care what my classmates thought. I made friends with him, and that made him happy. Now, in the sixth grade, we are still friends. It made me feel really good because I like making people happy. Another example of lokomaikai is when my sister didn’t know what she was doing and needed help. I used the value lokomaikai. It helped her understand that I just wanted to help her, and that I wanted nothing in return because it was the right thing to do. It was the Hawaiian thing to do.
My last gift is what my family thinks I have. It is called Aloha kekahi i kekahi. It means to love one another. I try to live this by attempting to make friends—not enemies— because in my future, I’ve got to pick either money or friends. I choose to pick friends because money can get you things, but it will run out. Friends can pull you up and help with all they can. They will help you because you helped and cared for them. Another example of this is at school, where if you look weird or you’re not as skinny as others, you get teased. I feel really bad for these kids who get teased. I try my best to comfort them and let them know that being different isn’t a bad thing. Aloha kekahi i kekahi is showing others love, kindness, and compassion in school. I try my best to show it. Seeing people sad or hurt really makes me mad at the people who would do such a thing. Most of the time, I walk up to the hurt person, and I try everything to make the person cheer up.
My family has helped me become the person I am. Using the gift of kamaehu has helped me get through challenges in my life. I can bounce back and move forward. Lokomaikai is doing something for others and not expecting anything in return. I use my gifts to support and love others when they don’t feel accepted. My family has taught me to Aloha kekahi i kekahi and to feel compassion for others. These are the values that I know will keep me strong.
Bronson Afong was born in Hawaii and resides on the island of Oahu. He is currently a 6th grader at Blanche Pope Elementary. In his spare time, he enjoys being with his family, playing with his dogs, reading, watching TV, fishing, hunting, going to the beach and playing video games. He is grateful and thankful to be selected for this essay and hopes it leads to future opportunities.
Puanani Burgess’s article is part of Sustainable Happiness, the Winter 2009 issue of YES! Magazine. Pua is a community building facilitator, trainer and consultant in Hawai'i, the U.S. and the Pacific. She is also a poet and cultural translator who is noted for her experience in community, family and values-based economic development, mediation and storytelling processes. Pua is also a board member of the Positive Futures Network, publishers of YES! Magazine.