by Aya Robinson–
I walked into Haynes-Prim Pavilion and the first thing that hit me was the smell: kalua pig, mac salad, chicken long rice, and haupia. Looking around there were vibrant flowers decorating the stairway and tables. Many of the tables had the ‘Iwa bird (or Great Frigatebird) spray-painted on them, the symbol of my hometown Hale’iwa, O’ahu. I ran into some fellow Hawai’i students, all of them speaking to each other in Pidgin trying to get things in order. I felt right at home.
I took my seat a table with some friends; most of them had never been to a luau and were excited to get a taste of Hawaiian culture. Our tables were called one-by-one to get food, kindly prepared by Mrs. Collier, mother of Kiai Collier who is the President of the Hawai’i Club. All of the food looked and tasted just like what I could get at the local plate lunch shop back home. After filling up our plates we headed back to our tables to be seated for the show.
“Aloha, and welcome to Menlo College’s 24th Annual Luau, presented by the Hawai’i Club.” Brian Brownfield and Wade Hawkins were the hosts for the evening. “We have a wonderful program for you tonight folks, so sit back, relax, and enjoy.” The show consisted of multiple hulas, the haka, and various other forms of Tahitian and Samoan dances. The performers put on a fantastic show, and you could see how much work and passion went into the program.
After the show I got comments from fellow students, one of whom stated in regards to the hula, “I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s not like other styles of dancing; it’s elegant and graceful. There is a sense of meaning and importance behind each song”. Other students raved about the food; one even commented that, “Kalua pork is amazing; better than pulled pork. I’ll definitely have to get some when I visit the islands one day”.
Overall, it was a very successful evening. The Hawai’i Club did a phenomenal job of bringing together different elements of Hawaiian and Polynesian culture in a way that was thoroughly entertaining and authentic. Seeing as Hawai’i students often miss home during the school year, the Annual Luau allows us to share our culture and the way we grew up with our Mainland and international friends. This only highlights one of the many things that makes Menlo such a special institution: that is doesn’t matter where you are from or what your background is, you can always find a place here where you are accepted. This is why myself and many other Hawai’i students can say without reservation that while our families are far away, we have our own o’hana right here among our fellow Oaks.
On a final note, I hope you enjoyed the Luau and look forward to seeing you all there next year. Aloha!