As Aldo De Leon Resendiz ’20 learned, you haven’t seen Oahu until you jump out of a plane.
Goodnight Scholars Program: How would you summarize studying for the summer in Hawaii?
Aldo De Leon Resendiz ’20: The summer that I spent in Hawaii allowed for me to develop a new found love for adventure. When I was not learning about benzene rings in my organic chemistry class, I was out and about; jumping out of airplanes, at the bottom of waterfalls, swimming with sea turtles or hiking along the side of a mountain. During these moments I felt the most alive and fulfilled. To summarize my summer in Hawaii, it was a one adventure after another. Not only did I get to witness the beautiful environment that Hawaii has to offer, I also got to learn about the culture of Hawaii. Although Hawaii is a part of the United States, and English is their major language, their was a significant amount of ancestral Hawaiian culture that influenced their current style of living. I lived in paradise for six weeks, and I am dreaming of the day I get to return.
What were you most excited about going into this trip? Did you have any concerns or reservations?
I was eager to fly over the ocean and witness the immense body of water that is the Pacific Ocean. I had only experienced the ocean beachside, and was able to witness the waves crash against the shore in their constant effort to conquer the beach. The power and vastness of the ocean intimidated me and I kept my feet on firm land, where I felt secure. The idea of being on an airplane thousands of feet in the air, with miles and miles of ocean underneath me, made me feel so small and insignificant in the grand scheme of things. There is a reason why they call Earth the Blue Planet, and beneath me on my flight to Hawaii, this reason unfolded. During my time in Hawaii, I constantly found myself at the bottom of a waterfall and at the beach surfing, snorkeling or diving. I learned about the life that the ocean sustains, and all that it provides as an ecosystem. Through my experience in Hawaii, my fear for the ocean evolved into respect for the ocean.
When falling through the air at 120 miles per hour, I felt content, rather than fearful.
What was the one unforgettable moment you had during this trip?
The island of Oahu was beautiful in that it had mountains next to beaches and cities next to jungles. Not only was it diverse in geography, but also in culture. While the south shore of the island was an urban city, the north shore was the country full of people on Hawaiian time. The most unforgettable moment of my trip was being able to see the full island in front of my eyes. This happened when some of the friends that I had made at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and I decided to go skydiving. The small aircraft that looked as if it was being held together by duct-tape and God’s grace reached an elevation of 14,000 feet in the air. That is when the door on the side of the plane went up, and my stomach in the opposite direction. From this height, the outline of Oahu could be seen in the Pacific Ocean, as well as all of the mountains and the waves foaming up as they broke on shore. I was free falling through the sky so fast that fear couldn’t catch up. They say that once you have tasted the taste of sky you will forever look up, and such is true. The sky not only reminds me of skydiving and seeing the beautiful island of Oahu, it is also a reminder of feeling alive and measuring my life through the things I do and the memories I make. When falling through the air at 120 miles per hour, I felt content rather than fearful. I felt capable to conquer anything that stands in my way.
What did this trip teach you about yourself?
Hawaii is close to 5,000 miles away from North Carolina, and six hours behind Eastern standard time. I felt disconnected to my family and friends. In addition to the distance away from home, their was the feeling of being on an island in the middle of the ocean, so minuscule and helpless. For the first two days of my stay, I was alone and I began to doubt whether I had made a mistake going to Hawaii by myself. I was sad in paradise. I spoke to my parents on the phone and they told me to be positive and enjoy my time there, which I did. I began to make friends that were alone like I was. With them I made endless memories and, at the same time, not enough. When taking a risk, it is important to be optimistic, flexible, and dedicated. Things always have a way of working themselves out. By the end of my six weeks in Hawaii, I was ready to see my family again, but not ready to leave paradise.
Now that the trip is over, what’s next for you?
As my girlfriend likes to put it, Hawaii turned me into a tree hugger and a hippie. I walk around barefoot wherever I can, I’d rather be outside than inside, and I am constantly looking for my next adventure. On top of this, I have also fallen in love with photography. A camera lens will never be able to match the quality of seeing something with your own eyes, but I do this for my family. The days where my parents can go out and explore are behind them as they have jobs and kids, but through me they can get a small glimpse of my adventures which brings them joy. I am interested in exploring every corner of planet Earth and seeing the jewels it has to offer. One day my heart will stop beating and, until then, I better use every single one wisely.
Photography credit: Aldo De Leon Resendiz/Goodnight Scholars Program