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Friends Reunited in Service – From the Islands to Tacoma

Hayley Uliana and second year ULT member, Kyle Lee are both serving at Trinity Presbyterian Church this year. These childhood friends grew up in Hawaii and have been reunited for a year of service together on the ULT AmeriCorps Team. Read about their home, service and sense of humor (i.e. sarcasm) as they interview each other.

– By Saiyare Refaei, NLF Communications Assistant & ULT Lead

Saiyare: Hi Hayley and Kyle. I’m going to have you both interview each other. But first, tell me about where you both are from and how you met?

Hayley: Me and Kyle are both from Kauai, Hawaii. We went to the same high school together. Kyle is from the east side and I’m from the west side.

Kyle: (Please don’t speak for me, thank you.)

K: [The east side and west side] … is where most of the working class families are from or where they currently reside… I originally started out at a public elementary school education system in Hawaii… My parents were looking out for me and decided to place me in this private college preparatory school. And that’s where I met Hayley when she entered in the 6th grade.

H: I went to a public elementary for all of elementary. And then from middle school…, I didn’t even know what island school was, actually, until I actually went there. What is this tiny little thing? And it’s a small island. You know everything. But I did not know this school existed. And so my parents sent me there. And I was like, “No, please! My friends!” But then it ended up being great.

K: It geared us towards moving out of Kauai or out of the island… Hayley and I didn’t become close until the end of my senior year (and Hayley’s junior year) of high school.

H: We had a lot of mutual friends.

K: Yeah! Really solid mutual friends. And then we really got to hang out more over the summer.

H: (Mmmhmmm… Shenanigans…) [Reflecting on their fun times over the summer.]

K: We would go home over the summers and hang out. And if felt like it picked up from where it left off.

H: Yeah, every summer it just picked up. Yeah cuz then we went to different colleges. He went to UPS.

K: (Can you not speak for me please.) [Pure and friendly sarcasm.]

K: I went to UPS [The University of Puget Sound].

H: And I went to Azuza Pacific University in California and honestly, never thought I would move to Washington.

K: OK Hayley, this is where we do the interview portion. – Hayley, why did you move up to Tacoma, Washington?

“I’m already falling in love with Tacoma” 

H: Great question, Kyle. So, I had no idea what I was going to do after college. I knew I wanted to go to grad school, was sick of writing papers, and so I wanted to take an interim, maybe a year or two. I knew I wanted to serve in somewhere and help people. (Because I love people.) And kind of pursue a kind of ministry aspect of things… Then my friend Kyle was like, “HEEEEEYYYY! You should apply for AmeriCorps! Because it’s exactly that!” And he said, “you would have a place to live, and it’s awesome, and I just did it for a whole year.” And so I did [apply], not knowing if I would get it or if there would be other opportunities, and then it just kind of worked out that I moved up here and it’s fabulous. And I’m already falling in love with Tacoma, even though I’ve only been here like a month. It’s just such a great mixture of family, like small time family, and then also big city. Which I love both.

K: Like that Kauai aspect type of community…

H: Yeah and the city, which I’ve always loved because I never had that. It’s just a great combo. Really great combo. Kyle, back to you. – How do you feel going into your second year? How are you  feeling?

K: That’s a great question Hayley… because I’ve had a year of experience working with youth, I want to grow from that aspect… For instance, I want to do a lot more event planning, that I wasn’t able to get a chance to do, such as planning a guy’s night for the Jason Lee Middle School guys … And that’s just a chance for the participants to just ask any questions that they might not feel comfortable asking at home… I also want to further expand on one of my passions… which is promoting a healthy lifestyle. And that’s why the nutrition plan/curriculum I’ve been planning has been so fun, even though it’s causing me to pull my hair out a little bit with time management… I just want them to know that there is also this other aspect that you can be passionate about and if I can rub it off on a student or two or ten that would be awesome. I just want to help them figure out what they are passionate about.

H: That’s great Kyle.

S: So you both are serving at Trinity Presbyterian? What does that mean? What role do you play?

K: Yeah! So Trinity has their own outreach coordinator who is our supervisor. Part of the outreach that they do is they work with Bryant Montessori Elementary School, in their TAP program (Trinity After School Program). Which works primarily with elementary school students.

H: (Can you NOT talk about my job?) [Returning the sarcasm.]

K: Shush. I was here longer than you. [ More friendly sarcasm.]  – And also for the outreach we have a middle school program and the learning center started out of the church basement. But then maybe two years later, well very recently it expanded to being at the school premises. So that’s how it started with two participants who kept coming… And maybe now it’s expanded to maybe 50-60 students that we serve… provide mentorship opportunities for them…

H: It’s going to be an exciting year, that’s for sure.

K: OK Hayley, should we ask more questions to each other.

H: OK sure. [ They like to play a lot of fast paced word association games for laughs and giggles.]

K: Frozen yogurt or ice cream?

H: Frozen yogurt. Mmmm, ice cream.

K: Let’s play word association…

H: Wait, I have a question for you…

K: Nutrition or fitness?

H: Wait, no! – Nutrition. Nutrition.

“Hula or fantasy football?”

K: Hula or fantasy football? Which are you most excited to do [teach] an enrichment for?

H: At first I was so excited to do hula and Hawaiian studies cuz I always wanted to be Hawaiian… Let’s not get into that. But actually I’m pretty excited for fantasy football because I know nothing about it and I’m gonna learn.

K: (Yeah you’re gonna learn.)

H: But I want to know how you feel as a community member now or how does it differ from when you were at UPS and doing a year of service?

K: … being part of the UPS community was great to establish friend but there was that bubble aspect unfortunately. And now I can see now living here in Tacoma how I wasn’t involved as I wanted to be in the community here. And the difference even in a two minute drive that you don’t notice as a UPS student especially when you are focused on you studies. But I really enjoyed last year, being able to experience the Tacoma community and being a part of that… I think it’s beneficial for you to be able to relate to the students that you serve, to the families that you provide services to and the student you know. (Yeah that college bubble was real.)

S: Are there thing at your service site or in ULT program that you are really anticipating, excited for and nervous for?

H: I would say I’m a very people focused person. And definitely learn…

K: Oh, wait! Can I ask you a question?!  Please, please, please, please.

H: OK go ahead Mr. Myle. [ No typo here. Kyle and Hayley call each other their names as if they start with the letter M: Myle and Mayley.]

K: Ok. If you had to create a recipe of yourself…

H: (Oh I knew this was going to be stupid.)


K:  If you could make a recipe of yourself, how would you make yourself? You know you did this with Avid.

H: (Yeah we did.)

K: I want to know five personality traits and four physical traits.

H: OK four physical traits: my hair which is long and red and thick…

K: Give me measurement words.

H: I’m gonna say three cups. I’m gonna say three cups of long hair. I’m gonna go with a cup of packed freckles (like how you pack brown sugar)…

K: I think that’s more like directions – like how you pack brown sugar.

H: No, maybe… One tablespoon of brown eyes, dark brown. And perfect teeth, probably. (Just kidding I don’t have perfect teeth.)


K: Ok now personality.

H: Personality: I would say adaptable, I’m gonna go with 16 ounces of adaptable.

K: So two cups.


H: So two cups. Any of those conversions. I’m trying to change it up here. I’m gonna go with positive, for the most part. People pleasing, which is my downfall. I love to laugh.

K: Yeah, you’re very funny.

H: Oh thank you. Yeah humor and a sense of sarcasm.

K: A sense of humor and sarcasm.

H: Yes a sprinkle of … no a heavy dose of sarcasm in everything that I say. This whole conversation is a lie. – No, I’m just kidding.


K: What was the question.

S: What are you excited for, anticipating about ULT…?

H: So yeah, people focus. I’m excited to have this team bond more. And we have bonded a lot but I think we are in the beginning stages of friendship slash not having formed friendships yet even. Depends on how you define friendship but I’m starting to get on that deeper level with people. I always like that point when you can hang out with people and be completely silent and just completely comfortable. Or be mean to each other in a funny way… that’s another level where I see that. But yeah, just the support system. I kind of want to form that at my site and build really meaningful relationships with the kids also. And hopefully long term so that will definitely play into another year of service because I kind of want to be there for them.

K: For me, I think I’m really excited for the cultural competency session we’re going to have and also the self-care and professional development aspect of the leadership trainings. I think I’ll find them… very useful for what I want to do after my year of service is over. Because if I’m to be honest, I don’t really have a solid plan of what I’m doing after Trinity. Yeah, so that is a scary prospect. On a separate note, like what Hayley said, I’m excited to hang out a lot more and bond or get to know our fellow ULT members… I believe that if we get to know each other then we will be more comfortable with each other and be able to express ourselves fully. And not feel like we have to people please. But speak openly during trainings so I’m very much looking forward to having social events or getting to know members outside of the trainings.

H: Me too.

S: Any last words. How do you feel about being reunited?

K: Oh yeah. What I think is really fun about this year has been this ULT house that we have. It’s actually really fun.

H: Yeah!

K: It’s really fun to see Hayley, well I see her everyday but Reilly and Annie on a daily basis. That’s a way that we have grown closer, I think, for sure by living together.

H: Hopefully it stays good.

K: Hopefully it stays that way.

H: After we see each other EVERY DAY.


K: I think but that’s one fun aspect. But how does it feel to be reunited? It feels really fun. I love living.

H: You love living?


K: Yeah! I love breathing! I love life. No, but it’s really great living with Hayley.

H: Yeah it’s fun. It’s good to have someone who you can be weird around.

K: (Yeah we’re such a weird combo.)

H: So strange. So, so, so, so strange.

S: My last question is do you want to take a picture doing your AmeriCorps hand together?

H: Yeah – is this officially done?

K: Yeah I just gotta practice because I don’t want it to be loppy.

Glad you silly friends have been reunited. Thanks for your service. Can’t wait to see what the rest of the year will bring for you both!

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