Sunny Blackstone - 2009 Program Participant

Exploring the island of Pahoa in Hawaii

Exploring the island with friends.

Why did you decide to go abroad? 

I wanted to travel, needed a change, and a new experience.

What drew you to Village Green Society and the program in Pahoa?

It sounded artistic Eco village founded by jugglers ?! How could I not apply?

Why did you love interning in Hawaii?

Everything from the sounds of the jungle birds waking me up in the morning, to the songs of the coqui frogs singing me to sleep at night. It was amazing to be so immersed in nature, and in a place as beautiful as Hawaii.

Besides the founding jugglers, what made your program unique?

It is genuine. The people who run the work trade are not in it to make a profit. They genuinely care about living sustainably and contributing to the community. You will meet some of the most unique and wonderful people!

How did you find the local support staff? What did you learn from them?

They were warm and hospitable. They made me feel welcome. They gave me a different perspective on the world we live in and my relation to it.

Young people celebrating


If you could change one thing about your program, what would it be?

I wish I had stayed longer.

What was a typical day like for you?

You wake up in a screened in "jungalow" to the sounds of jungle birds. Make your way through the trees to the communal kitchen. Cook up some local grinds bought at the farmers market, my fav was local chicken eggs with fresh avocados and goat cheese. The king of the jungle (who was running the program at the time) drives up in his little golf cart with a cheery "top o' the morning!" Everyone fills their water jugs with delicious Hawaiian rainwater from the catchment (treated for safety of course) and you are given your tasks for the morning.

It is sometimes gruelling and hard work but you often get to work with friends from around the world you will meet there and the work is very rewarding. Your body and spirit feels good after a good work session. You're done just in time for lunch. Cook up some lunch and you have the rest of the afternoon to bike around the area, head down to the black sand beach, catch some sun, meet some hippies, or even dance in the drum circle!

Supper was communal and we all took turns cooking something on different days. Once a week there was a potluck. Some nights are juggling nights at the on site circus school. As dusk sets in, more stars than you've ever seen appear in the night sky. The smell of night blooming jasmine might linger in the air, perhaps an evening tropical rain shower might stop in for a few minutes visit, just to leave everything energized and full of life, and as you retire to your bed for the night the coqui frogs will sing a lullaby to you - the singing frogs are a guarantee.

A jungalow in Hawaii

A painted jungalow.

What did you enjoy most outside of the regular program activities?

Beach time! The Dolphins regularly frequent the beach so bring a snorkel, mask, and some flippers and make sure your swimming skills are strong! The waves there can be gnarly.

Can you explain your accommodation a little?

A screened in jungalow with a bed, some shelving, and a place to hang clothes to dry. I liked the lack of four walls. The screen just made me feel so wonderfully immersed in nature. There is also a communal kitchen, bathroom, and showers.

What is one item every intern should pack?

A headlamp/flashlight! It can get quite dark in the jungle!

How has interning in Hawaii made a lasting impact on your life?

I did the program in 2009 and came back in 2010 to do it again. I built lasting relationships with people on the island and have returned for visits every year. Those friendships and bonds have impacted me most because I have learned so much from these people.