by Monica Karlstein, staff writer
|Many, especially young people, complain
that politics is boring and hard to understand. Some U.S. students
at HPU, who will not be named for obvious reasons, didn’t
vote in the Nov. 7 general election because, they said, either
they didn’t know how to cast an absentee ballot, or they
didn’t care enough to try to understand the politics.
An opportunity to meet politicians in person and talk to them about their
politics changed apathy to excitement for some journalism students who opened
their ears, sharpened their pencils, and focused their curiosity when Journalism
3000 instructor Bette Finlayson announced a field trip to the campaign headquarters
of Senator Daniel Akaka and Governor Linda Lingle.
General election night is party time for even losing campaigns, and only
one floor separated the two campaign offices, in the Dole Cannery building,
so the students were able to proceed from one party to the other, literally
and figuratively, seeking answers from both to all their questions.
“ People first!” said Don Ariyoshi, O‘ahu coordinator for Senator
Daniel Akaka, to describe Akaka’s politics, and that was exactly what was
happening Nov. 7 as a dozen students waited at the building’s entrance
to see Akaka.
They didn’t get just a glimpse of him. Akaka stopped on his way into
the building to greet people, one by one, and talk to each of them in person.
“ If you knock at Akaka’s door, he will let you in and offer you
a drink,” said Ariyoshi, who explained that Akaka’s strategy was
to reach people at a grassroots level. Much of the campaign was about visiting
homes, talking to residents, and putting up yard signs.
Julius Adungo, a student from Kenya, was impressed by Akaka’s way of
treating people. “Just as his coordinators told us, Senator Akaka stopped
and talked to us and took pictures with us,” said Adungo. “He
had to be literally dragged away from us to go to a meeting.”
Anita Mayer, a German student said: “It was a great opportunity to
interview and talk to the volunteers.” She also thought it was very
nice of them to give students the time they needed, even though the class
visit hadn’t been scheduled.
“ Meeting Akaka was a very fulfilling experience,” Mayer continued. “He
is so full of aloha spirit. Seeing and talking to him just fills you with such
According to Ariyoshi, people are fed up with the Iraq war and need a senator
like Akaka who is against the war because he doesn’t see an exit strategy.
“ Akaka is against it, but that doesn’t mean that he isn’t
supportive of our troops,” Ariyoshi explained, adding: “He has set
up four clinics to take care of the 40,000 American wounded soldiers.”
The Lingle campaign headquarters was also helpful for the students, although
they didn’t get to meet the governor.
“ It is more important that people vote than who they vote for,” said
Myra Arzadon, a volunteer for Gov. Lingle “Each person in the class was
able to interview different people,” said Mayer about interviewing volunteers
at Lingle’s campaign office. “It was interesting to see the diversity
in questions, answers, and reactions.
“ The lady I Interviewed spoke about the great team spirit that was present
at the campaign,” Mayer said, and the actions of the campaign workers convinced
her: “They were happy to work together, and they put 100 percent effort
into what they were doing that evening.”
Even the students who were not American citizens became involved in the politics
and the spirit of the general election. “This field trip was a great
experience for international students,” Mayer said. “We are always
told that we live in a global society, but attending an event like this made
Introduction to Journalism students
got a reality check Nov. 7 with a visit to campaign headquarters
of two top local officials. Clockwise from left, Julius
Adungo, Monica Karlstein, Anita Mayer, Finlayson, Tamika
Balderamos, Janice Barcinas, Colleen Aglugub, Joanne Corpuz,
Roanny Colon, Beau Lewis, Karen Gaspar, and Euene Malalis.
Courtesy Monica Karlstein