Defining “kuleana”

The Hawaiian term “kuleana” is quite difficult to define.  The literal translation, as I have heard, is “responsibility.” Kuleana means much more than that, as it seems to include a broader sense of responsibility –  a person’s responsibility to themselves and his/her community.  At PQ, we have named the second stage of growth Kuleana.  We have created a camp that aims to teach students that their kuleana for themselves will be a foundation to how they can interact with their families and communities.  In the second stage of growth we help students “claiming their kuleana” by practicing self honesty, accountability, integrity, and developing healthy coping skills to manage uncomfortable emotions.  This is usually evident in the way that their actions and words align.

I asked a group of PQ students to define what kuleana means to them and how that particular camp (or stage of growth) provided skills for life.  Below is the description produced by the group.

Kuleana means responsibility.  Responsibility means taking accountability for your own actions.  It applies to life in every single way.  Some struggles that we’ve encountered here have just been accepting that we’re here and that we needed to start being present and actually be responsible for our own actions here.  It also applies to  being responsible for past actions. 

Some tools I’ve learned while in Kuleana were exercising when becoming anxious or pissed off.  Journaling is another good toll for many people.  It helps getting out emotions and it relieves stress as well.  Being honest with ourselves and focusing on things that are in our control were two really good lessons.

You have to be responsible for yourself in order to keep your self. If you have a job then you have to be responsible for your work or else you will get fired.  responsibility is one of the key factors of becoming and being an adult.

I am really impressed by the students embodiment of kuleana.  They seem to be applying it much beyond the simplistic term “responsibility.”

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