A Lesson in ‘Aloha’

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By Edie Crabtree | NB Indy

Attention former Harbor Day students … you may have helped author a new children’s book!  I

t’s true –former Harbor Day teacher Margo Sorenson has recently released her new children’s book, “Aloha for Carol Ann,” and she shared with me that while writing the book, she would read it to her students, and allow them to provide feedback and suggest revisions.

So, if you attended HDS in the early ’90s and were fortunate enough to have been taught by this amazing lady, you should definitely pick up a copy and check out the final product!

Sorenson grew up loving books and considers them to have been one of her earliest friends, so it is no surprise that in addition to having been an educator, she is also an accomplished author.  Having lived in Hawaii for 10 years, much of her writing is set in those beautiful islands, and embodies the “spirit of Aloha” that permeates life there.

“Aloha for Carol Ann” is one of those books.  In this story, we meet Carol Ann, a tentative third-grader whose family has relocated to Hawaii, and who will be forced to attend a new school.  She is, of course, worried about how she’ll fit in, and uncertain about the different customs practiced in her new home.

Carol Ann quickly discovers that Hawaiians believe in “aloha.” This is a word and concept unique to the Hawaiian language, as it has multiple meanings…“welcome,” “goodbye” and “love.”  In this case, it means a loving welcome, and instant acceptance, but it also means that you will never be a stranger, and that when saying goodbye, you will be forever remembered.  Additionally, upon your return, you will be welcomed back with open arms.  What a great societal concept, especially for our young Carol Ann!

Our small protagonist also learns to appreciate the beauty in the things that make us different.  She is exposed to new cultures, foods, and customs (Is one really supposed to take their shoes off outside the classroom?!), and while initially a little hesitant, learns to embrace them just as she learns to embrace her new home, and its aloha.

My three boys, ages 7, 9,and 13, all enjoyed reading this book with me, because it is universally understandable.  Although we have lived in Orange County their whole lives, and in fact my oldest has been at the same school for his entire educational career, beginning with preschool, each of us has at some time had to face a new situation that has caused us anxiety.

My middle boy changed schools in the first grade, and had to navigate a whole new social circle.

My youngest was the only one to start school not having an older sibling readily available as an immediate protector.

Even as adults, we are faced with situations and ideas that are new and foreign to us, and must learn what the new “norms” are.

For that reason, this book speaks to all ages, and gives us the comforting reminder that it will all turn out OK.  New friends will be made.  New goals will be met.  The new place that seems so daunting will become home, whether that place IS a new home, or simply a new classroom at the start of the year.

This story is also a reminder to those that find themselves on the other side of the coin … small acts of kindness go a long way.  It is hard to be the new kid on the block, and that small gift of a kind word or smile, and the offer of your friendship can truly make the world a better place, even if it is only in the eyes of one little 8-year-old girl.

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