UH Hilo’s Wailau seeks storyteller applications for April event

University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo
Alyson Y Kakugawa-Leong, (808) 932-7669
Int Dir, Univ Rel; Dir, Media Rel, University Relations, Office of
Posted: Feb 11, 2021

The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo invites the public to be a part of Wailau, a storytelling event meant to build connections across the UH Hilo campus and with the wider community. The second episode of Wailau occurs in April 2021 with the theme, A Just World. Storyteller applications are being accepted through Friday, March 5 for the April event.

Organizers for Wailau, which means “where water from diverse sources comes together to commingle and become a more powerful, unified whole,” aim to spotlight voices and stories that fit Wailau themes in interesting ways, showcasing five storytellers at each online event: a UH faculty member, UH staff member, UH student, UH alum and a community member. Submissions are also welcome from former faculty and staff and storytellers of all ages.

Between the application deadline (Friday, March 5) and the premiere (Saturday, April 24), storytellers will be recorded sharing their stories of A Just World on UH Hilo’s Performing Arts stage in advance of the online premiere. If storytellers are unable to attend on-stage taping, self-taped stories are accepted.

The storyteller application for the April event has opened just as the first Wailau event is set to premiere. Applicants have an opportunity to join the audience on Sunday, February 14 at 2:00 p.m. so they might experience a Wailau event before completing their storyteller applications for April’s event.

“We hope that experiencing the February premiere of Wailau will inspire audience members to share their stories of A Just World at April’s event,” said Kathleen Baumgardner, one of the event organizers.

Wailau organizers include UH faculty, staff, students, alums, and community members, including UH Hilo's English Club. Students from the English Club determine Wailau themes, review applications, and select storytellers. Wailau episodes are hosted by students Kuʻuhiapo Jeong and Dayva Escobar, who are joined by a topic expert to explore each episode’s theme.

Escobar, a UH Hilo senior, shared her thoughts about the power of Wailau.

“When you pass a stranger, you’re likely disconnected. You know nothing about them. But when you hear someone’s story, share your own story, your heart is open. You’re suddenly vulnerable and there’s a special connection that grows from that. During an era where we can’t see each other’s smiles or physically embrace one another, the capacity to connect at a deeper level, to share our soul, is a special gift. Wailau is providing us with a way to say ‘we’re in this together’ through the art of story, reminding us that no matter where we are, we’re one ‘ohana.”

Apply to be a Wailau storyteller and learn more: hilo.hawaii.edu/wailau/.