Kumu Akeo, Aunty Venus invite students to ‘talk story’

Talk+Story+meeting

Photo by Kelsie Chong

Kamehameha Schools Maui counselors Kumu Ladd Akeo and Aunty Venus Rosete-Medeiros welcome students to the first Talk Story meeting on Nov. 21, 2011. All students are invited to share what's on their minds in a confidential and supportive environment.

By Kelsie Chong, features co-editor

Hosted and arranged by Kumu Ladd Akeo and Aunty Venus Rosete-Medeiros, the Talk Story group kicked off their first meeting today, Nov. 21, 2011, during lunch in Pauahilani Room Q-36.

Though only two students showed up for the inaugural meeting, both counselors welcomed them with open arms.

The facilitators handed out confidentiality forms and confirmed that the stories and information discussed during that time would remain confidential.

High school counselor Kumu Akeo and Aunty Venus, k-12 outreach counselor, started the meeting by sharing a bit about themselves, as well as the tough life experiences and hardships that they have encountered.

They also spoke about their knowledge and sensitivity to any of the problems the students may be faced with.

From divorce to the loss of a loved one, Kumu Akeo and Aunty Venus assured the students that they have gone through a number of difficulties themselves.

“We come with a great amount of experience,” Kumu Akeo said. “Being that we had our own personal experiences, that’s where we draw our strengths from.”

The informal talk story group will meet every Monday at lunch. The purpose is to encourage students to come in and just talk story about what’s on their minds.

In addition to giving studens a safe environment to talk, the sessions can also allow students to meet others who might be undergoing a similar situation.

Aunty Venus said that some problems that students have talked to her about in the past during private counseling sessions include parental separation, death of a loved one, substance abuse, domestic violence, social problems and parent neglect.

This group was created because the two counselors saw the need for students to receive support for various reasons. “We felt like it was important for them to know that they’re not alone,” Kumu Akeo said.

Aunty Venus said that it is important to allow students an outlet to express challenges that they are facing because suppressing their feelings will only manifest into a larger problem. “It’s about being real and being honest,” she said.

Aunty Venus Rosete-Medeiros is the former executive director and founder of the Neighborhood Place of Wailuku, which has now served over 1500 families and youth. Holding two bachelors degrees and numerous certifications, including one as a transformational life coach, Aunty Venus has spent over 26 years helping children, youth and families, and she would like to use her skills to help the children of Kamehameha Maui.

The counselors suggest that if students are too shy to take part in group meetings but are willing to do individual counseling, they are more than happy to meet with them.

“We’ll be glad to offer our mana’o, but we’re survivors like everyone else. We’ll just offer what worked for us,” he said.

The next meeting to talk story will be held next Monday, Nov. 28, during lunch. Everyone is welcome.