By Ju Chulakadabba ‘19

Two weeks in Hawaii went by so fast. Today, our plan was to pack everything up, canoe in the ocean, and enjoy the last day in Hawaii.

We packed everything up in the vans and left the hotel at 9 AM. We then arrived at the canoe club just in time to canoe with an MIT alum and two other club members. We had 12 people in total (7 students, 1 TA, 1 professor, and 3 people from the club) and canoed two 6-people canoes that were bridged together. Canoeing together was a challenge. Twelve of us needed to synchronize. We had to follow the canoe leader and trust the steerer. Even though we might paddle in the different sides or different canoes, we still needed to make sure that our movements happened at the same time. Canoeing was a truly great experience. The sky was clear because of the Kona winds from the south, so we could see the edge of Mauna Loa clearly and the neighbor islands like Maui.

A quick break when we canoed 

After we canoed for about two hours, we headed to Walmart to pick up some packing materials and then headed to our storage unit. At the storage unit, we packed and organized things that we did not want to bring back to MIT. We left chemistry kits, equipment, cooking utensils, soil sample collectors, and many more items. We needed to organize and write down all the items in the storage neatly so that next year’s TREXers would not have troubles finding things.

Once we finished packing, we divided into three groups. One group went to deploy a few more sensors, one went to the beach, and one went to a coffee plantation. I was in the group that went to the coffee planation. At the coffee farm, we tasted different types of Kona coffee, learned the process of making coffee, and got some fresh coffee products home.

Coffee cherries and flowers at the coffee plantation

The last thing we had scheduled before heading to the airport was to have dinner as a group for the last time. I recommended going to the same place that Chang, James, and I went two days before since they had good Hawaiian food. My group had some free time to walk around the area before we had to meet up with everyone, so we bought some souvenirs. Joey, James, Chang, and I got Hawaiian shirts and decided to wear them immediately. We looked pretty touristy, but we had no shame since it was our last day in Hawaii. Another thing that we did to kill time was watch the sunset in Hawaii for one last time. The sunset was spectacular as usual. Once everyone arrived at the restaurant, we enjoyed eating a lot of traditional Hawaiian food. Some people on the trip tried Kava for the first time and, unlike me, they liked it. Once we finished dinner we headed to the airport and it was time to say goodbye to Hawaii.

Chang watching the sunset

Every year, a group of MIT students and professors travel to the Big Island of Hawaii to gain fieldwork experience through TREX (Traveling Research Environmental EXperiences). The first TREX trip was held in 2000, and since launching has taken students on research activities in domestic and international settings. For more undergraduate opportunities, click here.