Menlo and Hawaiʻi: What’s da scoops?

–Miranda Canniff, Pictures by Esteban Ramierez and Miguel Lim–

Similar to the way a reporter picks up a “scoop” when researching for exclusive news topics, Hawaiian Creole (pidgin slang) uses the word “scoops” to ask for information. “What’s da scoops?” = “What’s up”

If you attend Menlo College, you probably have a few friends, or have at least met a good handful of people, that call Hawaiʻi home. 

“Jesus sandals” (a.k.a. J-slips, tatas, or chanclas) or “slippahs”––not flip-flops––are a common sight on campus, and Menlo’s annual Lūʻau, hosted by the Pacific Islander Club (PIC), is arguably one of the most anticipated student-run events of the year. 

Hawaiian staples like poke (pronounced poh-keh), loco moco, and kalua pork are regular menu items in the dining hall, and it’s not unusual to hear island-style reggae blasting through the halls of one of Menlo’s four residential buildings.

Hawaiʻi has even found its way into Menlo College’s curriculum. Professor Linda Bakke recently began teaching a course called Literature of Hawaiʻi and the Pacific, which is popular amongst the student body. 

As Thomas Depontes, a student from the Big Island of Hawaiʻi, puts it, “This school offers a lot of ways to feel like you’re still at home in Hawaiʻi if you ever are getting homesick”

Hawaiʻi’s local culture has rooted itself into Menlo culture––and for good reason. Hawaiʻi and Menlo share a lot of the same values. The community atmosphere and laid back, friendly people of Hawaiʻi can also be found in Menlo students and faculty. As a result, the college has historically attracted large populations of kamaʻāina (literally translated as “children of the land”: meaning anyone born or raised in the islands).

Menlo is a great place for Hawaiʻi students to be, but they also serve as a valuable asset to the school’s community. Essentially, what Menlo has done is tap into a pool of diversity. People from Hawaiʻi represent so many different backgrounds, and other than creating a good image of the college by way of numbers, having a background of diversity enhances an accepting campus atmosphere. 

PIC’s finance director Jordyn Sanico attributes Menlo’s focus on gaining prospective students from Hawaii to their variety. “I think because Hawaiʻi is such a diverse place and students can come from so many different backgrounds––culturally, financially, ethnically. Hawaiʻi is a melting pot, so even though we’re all from Hawaiʻi, we’re all different”

Jordyn describes Lūʻau as “just…fun. It’s a cultural showcase. It’s an opportunity for us to not only be known as ‘the Hawaii kids’ but to show people what our culture looks like” 

The annual celebration of Pacific and Polynesian culture is the result of many days of hard work. Performers learn Hawaiian, Tahitian, Samoan, Tongan, and Maori dances and songs throughout the school year to be displayed in mid-Spring for the education and enjoyment of the Menlo community. Lūʻau also provides an opportunity for students to stay connected to and learn more about their own––as well as others’––cultures. 

Abby Roxas, PIC Secretary, grew up on the island of Oʻahu. She says, “I think Lūʻau is like a piece of home that we can get up here––a reminder of where we come from and a way for us to have fun and get to meet alumni.” Part of what makes Lūʻau so special is that it gives current students the chance to view a glimpse of themselves in the future. Through participating in or attending Lūʻau they meet alumni from Hawaiʻi and build a support network on the Mainland.

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