by Veronica Sedano
Our first week in Tahiti has been quite eventful! We focused mainly on oral and written traditions. In the Tahitian culture, most traditions are passed down from generation to generation, orally and vertically rather than horizontally.
The second day we visited a ceremonial event that is referred to as a Marae. In this ceremony, they portrayed rituals from the past to keep their history alive and allow others to be aware of these traditions.
The following day, Monday, we woke up early to catch a ferry at 9:45 to the neighboring island of Moorea. However we did not make it to the ferry dock on time due to protestors who had blocked main streets. We waited at the dock for a good 5 hours but we were able to visit the local market. This whole week was spent in Moorea, so the remaining events took place there.
We had the privilege to visit a medicinal garden at the community center in a research institution. Hinano was the lady who gave us a tour of the garden and shared with us plants, trees and vines and their benefits. Since I am a medical anthropology and global health major, I was fascinated by this information. Hinano mentioned that healers don’t usually share their knowledge of healing and what to use because it’s only passed down in the family. It is something very sacred to them.
My favorite experience this week was working with kids at a camp. I wasn’t sure what exactly to expect, but I knew we would have a good time because kids are always so energetic and willing to try things out. We sang, said prayers, toured the campground, and learned a couple of the traditional dances. We ended up playing beach soccer and eating ice cream with them. We ended the day by distributing UW water bottles and they immediately put them to use. It was a little heartbreaking to say goodbye because they are amazing kids with a lot of potential and we got attached in such a short period of time.
We finished off our week in Moorea by swimming with stingrays and sharks!