Well known through-out Hawaii as the sister of President Barack Obama, Soetoro-Ng is also known for her role in the non-profit “Our Public School” and “Ceeds of Peace” teaching curriculum. The Big Island’s United Nations Association – in looking for someone “to expand the understanding of Aloha” expressed through sincerity, kindness, Harmony and Aloha – chose Soetoro-Ng for its first ever Aloha Peace Prize.
During the event held at the Nani Mau Gardens in Hilo, Soetoro-Ng was regaled with dance and entertainment, adorned with lei, and given a small “mini Maya” statuette.
Kumu Leilehua Yuen began the program with an opening chant. Sara Burgess served as master of ceremonies. Those gathered were welcomed by Big Island United Nations Association president Ruth Larkin.
The governor’s East Hawaii representative, Wendy Bothelho Cortes (with her daughter Ayah) proclaimed the day to be “September 14 2013 Dr. Maya Soetoro-Ng Day” in the state. Other dignitaries – like State Senator Russell Ruderman – honored her with commemorations and statements.
After a Hawaiian oli by Luana Neff, the award was handed over to Soetoro-Ng, who then gave a short speech.
Maya Soetoro-Ng – full speech – Sept. 14, 2013
Soetoro-Ng was then lovingly covered in lei by the Girl Scouts of America Hawaii troupe 254. Music and hula was performed by the students of Kamehameha Schools, and bon dance by the Odori Dance Troupe of Honokaa Hongwanji. Finally, Soetoro-Ng herself served as a volunteer to be surrounded by the juggling youth of the Hiccup Circus.
Soetoro-Ng is well known on the island not only for her relationship with her presidential brother, but for her educational work. This short biography was provided by event organizers:
|Maya Soetoro-Ng was raised in Indonesia and Hawaii. She was awarded an MA in Secondary Education from NYU and a PhD in Educational Foundations from UH Manoa. She has developed and taught Humanities curriculum in both public and private secondary schools in NYC and Honolulu, and she has worked at the East West Center promoting international exchange. Maya is currently an Assistant Professor at the UH College of Education where she teaches Multicultural Education, Social Studies Methods, and Peace Education. Maya is the President and founder of a nonprofit Our Public School that works to build bridges between public schools and the communities that surround them. With her partner Kerrie Urosevich, she also teaches peace education workshops using the Ceeds of Peace curriculum she developed for teachers, parents, community members and the children they nurture. She has written a picture book entitled “Ladder to the Moon” and is currently writing a book on Peace Education as well as a young adult novel entitled “Yellow Wood”.|