Community Health and Native Healing in Hawai'i


This program is currently not available for general enrollment. Please contact ally@cfhi.org if you are interested in setting up a group program at this site. 

Almost 1,500 years ago, Polynesians arrived to Hawai`i after navigating the Pacific Ocean using only the stars, ocean currents, and winds as guides to discover uninhabited lands. As Hawai`i became a destination for explorers, missionaries, sugar plantation and other economy investors, the influx of immigrant workers settled in Hawai`i brought much diversity to the Islands. Today, the diverse culture of Hawai`i is expressed in its languages, music, art, food and festivals. Hawai`i calls this vibe, “the spirit of aloha.” Behind the colorful publicity and communications of Hawai`i, there exists a growing need for quality healthcare and resources for its rural communities. Hawai`i island is the largest of the Hawaiian Islands as well as one with the most challenges in providing its residents with adequate health care. CFHI is excited to be an instrumental part in the Kumulau – Hawai`i Rural Healthcare program.

During the first two weeks, the participants will stay on the West side of Hawai`i Island in Kona and work with Hawaiian cultural practitioners as well rural health care providers. In these rural communities of Kona, participants will work with Native Hawaiian community health centers providing services to multi-generational Native Hawaiian families. The connection between culture and fostering health education in creating healthier communities is the focus of Kumulau

For the remaining weeks of the program, participants will stay in Waimea, a quaint and small town near Mauna Kea, Hawai`i’s largest and highest mountain. Participants will learn about the cultures of Hawai`i as well as work with health care providers and community groups near Waimea. Through this program, participants will learn to see beyond the romantic view of Hawai`i that the world is accustomed to seeing, and, instead, they will learn about developing and sustaining quality healthcare for rural Hawai`i, from local leaders and experts. Aloha!

CFHI offers options for students and faculty to fit your interests and schedule. Choose your program duration, or for a comparative experience, choose to participate in multiple programs. CFHI can also often accommodate alternate program dates upon request. For more information see our How to Apply page.


5 Weeks $5,200
Arrival Dates: 
Aug 04, 2018 

 Clinical Rotations and Public Health Placements

Participants are slated to work and learn from 12 cultural sites/practitioners, 5 schools, 1 youth center, 2 hospitals, 1 private practice pediatrics office, 1 remote travelling doctor office vehicle, and 3 health care/centers. 

Community Health Center: A health center that provides quality and affordable healthcare, diabetic care and education services, dental care, and behavioral health services.

National Parks: Participants will visit several national parks throughout the duration of their program, including parks focused on marine mammal life, natural history, agriculture, and Hawai'ian artifacts.

High School: Participants will rotate at a 9th-12th grade high school comprised of 1600 students, and work on after school programs that support ongoing health initiatives. They may choose to take part in PE or zumba classes, or offer a healthy eating cooking class!

Pediatrics Center: Students rotate at a pediatric center that provides a wide range of healthcare from birth through infancy, childhood, and adolescense. They work closely on behavioral issues, treating infectious illnesses, and offering a caring and empathetic approach to improve education and health.

Agriculture/Farming: Students will visit various sites to understand how Hawaiians sustained rain-fed (unirrigated) intensive farming for centuries, and how they have implemented current efforts to live sustainably. Participants will work in planting and must be ready to dig in the dirt and connect with the land!

Community Hospital: This is a nonprofit community hospital for residents and visitors, with a mission of providing quality healthcare services for Native Hawaiians and all people of Hawaii.

Other sites: education center, Polynesian Dance center, arts therapy center, youth center, various rural clinics


This program takes place on the Big Island. Students will spend the first two weeks in Kona, and the last three weeks in Waimea.

Accommodations & Homestays

Students on this program stay at airbnbs at both sites. Each AirBnB can house 10 students and are located nearby the main rotation sites, or the sites are accessible via public transportation.

Two meals are provided per day.

Airbnbs have washer/dryer in unit and wifi.

Students will be introduced to their homes on their arrival day!

Eligibility: Who Can Apply?

Currently this program is only open to pre-approved student groups. Please do not apply unless instructed by CFHI directly. If you are interested in setting up a group program at this site, contact ally@cfhi.org

Language Required: English

Hawai'i is the only U.S. state with two official languages: Hawaiian and English, with a 3rd unofficial language: Pidgin. It is helpful to know some basic Hawai'ian vocabulary, but you will also learn this during your program! 

Arrival Information

Students should plan to arrive into Kona Airport on the first Saturday of their program. They will be met at the airport by our local team. 

What’s Included?

CFHI Program fees include the majority of your onsite expenses. As a nonprofit, CFHI strives to keep fees low and offers fundraising opportunities, scholarships and discounts.

Pre-Departure Support

  • Guidance from CFHI staff in San Francisco before departure
  • Program-specific materials with information on making travel arrangements, visa requirements, recommended immunizations, etc.

On-Site Services

  • Airport pick-up upon arrival and transportation to lodging site in Kona with local CFHI representative
  • Welcome dinner
  • Welcome orientation with other participants covering safety, transportation, and other logistics
  • Orientation including national park visits, cultural shows, and dance
  • Public and private transportation to official site visits in Kona and Waimea
  • Within islands, arrange for the most appropriate mode of transportation
  • CFHI Local Team: providing instruction, logistical support, and 24/7 emergency response
  • Weekly health and education lectures
  • Placement and coordination of clinical/public health/education activities
  • Accommodations and two meals per day in Kona and Waimea

Post-Return Resources

  • Access to CFHI alumni-only LinkedIn group featuring news and career opportunities related to Global Health
  • CFHI alumni newsletter highlighting events, resources, and ways to stay involved

Uniquely CFHI, 50% or more of student program fees go directly to the communities they will be visiting, benefiting the local economy at large and specifically underserved health systems.

Dr. Māhealani Yamashita, CEO of Pe`ahi Education Group (PEG) – Dr. Yamashita is a community leader, educator, and cultural consultant from Hawai`i. Her experience in the educational profession spans over twenty years in public, private, and charter schools, as well as recently at the Kaua`i Community College as a Career and Transition Counselor/Specialist. Her expertise includes integrating project-based learning and Hawaiian culture and values into experiential, environmentally engaging educational experiences. She has also been an Administrator for a K-12 Charter School. A Native Hawaiian born and raised on Hawai`i Island, she is also proud to have served her country and is a military Veteran.  She holds a BA in Secondary Education, Language Arts, MEd in Education Counseling, and an EdD in Education Leadership, K-12. Presently, she is an online adjunct Professor for Grand Canyon University (College of Education).

Michelle Yamashita, CFO of PEGWith a wealth of professional experience, Michelle  has been in roles in quality assurance, such as Director of Quality for GE Aviation where she was responsible for Quality Systems, improving FTY and integrating Quality and Lean Six Sigma tolls and best practices. She served 4 tours, (3 tours to Afghanistan, 1 to Iraq), Michelle is retired with experience in Navy aviation. Her hometown is Littleton, Colorado. Michelle’s experiences include working for Raytheon as the Quality Assurance Manager, Kauai, Hawaii (2008-2010). Michelle then became the Quality Assurance Manager for Manu Kai, a subsidiary for Ke`aki Technologies, Inc. and largest private consulting LLC working for the Government at Kauai’s Pacific Missile Range Facilities (PMRF). Michelle holds a bachelor’s. Emry Riddle, as well as an MBA, with an emphasis in Informations Systems, from Hawaii Pacific University. Michelle also has a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt and a Program Management Certificate from Villanova University.

LANI ISAACS: Cultural Expert - Founder and Director, Kumu Lani Isaacs, a lifelong dancer, teacher and choreographer opened the `Alohi Polynesian Dance Academy in Kamuela, Hawai`i in 2011. Since 1978, her professional careers ran hand-in-hand as a Cultural Resource Director, Certified Corporate Trainer and Concierge Manager in the Hospitality Industry, and a professional entertainer. Under the direction of Kumu Hula Ke`ala Kukona, Kumu Lani owes her success as a seasoned dancer to her formal training. Hands-on experiences, accumulated over many years, has awarded her a fluency that is essential to not only the hospitality industry, but to that of the performing arts as well. With a compassionate heart & a firm hand, Kumu Lani continues to nurture her haumāna (students) – striving to develop their skills & talents in order to provide them opportunities for their future.

Paul B von Weckmann, PEG Consultant – Paul has a 22-year career in Fire Service & Medical Education. After proudly serving our country in the Marine Corps, he joined the US Forest Service in 1994 and Riverside County Fire Department in 1996. He taught his first class in Emergency Medicine in 2000 while still working at the Fire Department and became licensed in California and Hawaii as a Teacher with a Bachelors of Science in Clinical Psychology. He taught Medicine right here in Kailua Kona on the Big Island for 5 years, was the EMS Coordinator for Ironman & was a member of the Hawaii Volunteer Fire Department. He has worked with multiple school districts, non-profit organizations and private industries as both a facilitator & an instructor and he owns his own consulting business. He is currently working with the Veterans Administration in Tennessee to eliminate Veteran Homelessness. Paul is of Hispanic & Native American Heritage & is a huge supporter of indigenous cultural rights. He is currently a Federal Educational Officer on the Cherokee Indian Reservation in NC.

Dr. Gloria Ilagan, COO - Born in the Philippines and raised in Kona, on the Big Island of Hawaii, she is an Educational Specialist with an emphasis on Educational Leadership and Curriculum and Instruction.  Employed with the Hawaii State Department of Education, she brings over twenty five years of experience in the field of Health, Physical Education and Fitness.  She is an instructor for Kealakehe High School. She teaches online for University of Phoenix, and consults with various community groups to promote vocational and technical training in the field of Healthcare and Fitness. Ranch owner and coffee farmer in the south Kona and Ka'ū Districts, Dr. Ilagan oversees agricultural and farming lands for avocado and coffee production.  Dr. Ilagan would like to provide more enrichment and learning to our programs. Dr. Ilagan would like to achieve this all through living aloha with a healthy and active lifestyle through Native Hawaiian Culture and values.