AU Hawaii Club shares culture through 10th annual luau
Club president: "Hawaii is always our home"
The AU Hawaii Club hosted its 10th annual luau to celebrate Lei Day on Sunday, April 22.
The theme of this year’s event was “Laulima,” a Hawaiian word that means “to work together.” The club hoped to highlight the diversity and inclusiveness of Hawaii by working with other multicultural organizations for the event.
Lucy Yang, president of AU Hawaii Club, said the theme “defines who they are as Hawaii.”
“In Hawaii, we’re a really diverse, mixed group of people; you have people coming from all over the world,” Yang said. “It’s about … coming together even though they’re different to work along with each other.”
The club reached out to several multicultural organizations from around the DMV area to participate, including American Bhangra Crew, AU’s bhangra dance team, who performed that evening.
Members of the club also performed several hula dances, including a Wahine dance by females in the group. They swayed their hips and moved their arms in smooth motions to a song about someone who wandered away from Hawaii, but ultimately returned because they knew Hawaii was their true home, said Victoria Ramos, AU Hawaii Club’s event coordinator.
“We wanted to implement that message: although we’re 5,000 miles away, Hawaii is always our home,” Ramos said. “That’s why we bring a little piece of our home here to AU to share it with others.”
Guests were welcomed by Hawaiian music and received colorful leis. Those who could answer Hawaiian trivia correctly received Hawaiian-themed prizes, and halfway through the event, dinner was served, including kalua pig with cabbage, pineapple wedges with Li Hing powder, haupia and more.
This year’s event had a larger turnout than previous years, with more than 60 tickets sold this year compared to about 40 tickets sold last year, organizers said.
Organizing the event during her three-year presidency proved to be a huge learning experience, especially when it came to connecting with her culture, Yang said. Before coming to AU, Yang said she didn’t dance hula, play the ukulele or do anything else one would expect Hawaiians to do. The Hawaii Club changed that for her.
“It made me realize, if no one else shares our culture, then who will?” Yang said. “Coming here made me realize that I need to know more about my own culture and to be able to share that with everyone here.”
The annual luau isn’t the only thing the club does throughout the semester. In the winter, the club goes to Pentagon City Mall or Tysons Corner to help freshmen members shop for winter clothes since many don’t know how to dress in the cold weather, Ramos said.
As a graduating senior, Ramos said that she will definitely miss connecting with the members of the club and sharing similar stories or complaints, whether it’s about the weather, why people walk so fast or the lack of sushi rice in the Terrace Dining Room.
“It’s those things that I’m going to miss the most, connecting with people with the same things from back home,” Ramos said.
As the Hawaii Club’s new president, Joline Badua has already started planning next year’s luau. Badua has goals of letting more students know about the club, hosting general body meetings that will teach people more about Hawaiian culture and show that they’re “more than just Hawaiian pizza.”
“A lot of people think you have to come from Hawaii to join, but it’s not just about that,” Badua said. “Hawaii club is not just about Hawaii people from Hawaii joining together because they’re homesick, it’s about … learning about other people’s cultures. That’s all they really want to aim to do and show here at American.”