The number one piece of advice for the budding Kalani volunteer in the first weeks is to put yourself out there. Yes, you will find love and support, yes you will find fun and adventure and yes you will connect with many, but none of it will happen if no one knows you are here. Kalani is in a period of growth and at time of writing there are one hundred and twenty five volunteers in the community. Everyone does their very best to welcome new arrivals to the family and it’s important that you do your bit too and be proactive in introducing yourself and initiating conversations.
If you are camping, I would immediately go all out to make yourself as comfortable as possible. Don’t hold back! Mattresses, tents, lanterns, even bits of furniture do the rounds among the volunteers and particularly if you are in for a three month stint, you’ll be glad you made the effort early on. I have enjoyed making my hale (Hawaiian word for house or home) as creative and comfortable as possible. It’s all part of the Kalani experience. You can scour the jungle for rocks and wood to get creative with (although check with the locals and do not remove anything from sacred spaces), you can design artwork and soft furnishings in the art shed, (a wonderful Kalani resource for creative play) and if all else fails you can search for supplies in Hilo and brave the consumer-madness of Walmart! Yes, even in Hawaii…
One theory is ‘say yes to everything on offer’ to help find yourself in the community. By saying ‘yes’, you maximize your opportunities to connect with others, you experience the range of classes on offer, and you will find yourself on adventures outside the retreat bubble. A few words of caution; there are so many activities to choose from, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. Listen to what your body and your heart tell you. If you are tired, rest. If you feel overwhelmed, retreat. And if you feel strong waves of emotion arise, take yourself to ‘The Point’, a beautiful ocean vista just opposite the main gate. Sit down on a bench, breathe deeply and drink in the view. This is the best dose of Kalani medicine.
There are so many ways to live here, so keep in mind why you came. I wanted to experience community living and the abundant nature on The Big Island. If you find yourself staying up late and sleeping in, shake things up and watch the sunrise at 6am. If you have never tried a certain type of yoga, challenge yourself to take that class. And if you do nothing else, shake it all out at Ecstatic Dance on a Sunday morning. It took me a whole month to make it there, and I have no idea why I waited so long!
Talk to the staff or long term volunteers if you have a problem, or if there is something that you do not like. They would much rather know sooner or later so that they can do something to help. With the exception of our founder who was here from the beginning, everyone else here has gone through the same adapting process, to carve their own unique space in this vibrant community. Come and check it out for yourself!