Sophia Lim, Staff Writer
On April 7, Saint Martin’s University hosted one of the most anticipated events of the school year, created to showcase the culture of the Hawai’ian people. SMU’s annual lu’au is made up of combinations of dances, music, and food, and featuring other islands of the Pacific. Board member of the Hawai’ian club, sophomore Prya Oliveira, revealed that it took over five months of preparation to make this night possible. Before the gates were even guests filled up the pavilion dressed in the theme of the islands, with little children wearing grass skirts and leis, and adults sporting floral attire. The dancers all assembled in the back room, last-minute rehearsing with looks of excitement and nervousness mingled in their faces. When asked why they had decided to partake in the dance group of the event, one of the club dancers, Kaili Lebanon states, “I grew up dancing hula and I joined because I thought it’d be fun to showcase a piece of who I am in a different environment. I wanted to be a part of sharing the aloha.”
Though some didn’t decide to be a part of this evening through dancing, they were able to help in other ways. Some of the volunteers for the night were asked how they felt about the annual Lu’au. Freshman Victoria Victor seemed to really enjoy her first time attending the Lu’au and says she volunteered because she felt like she was supporting her culture in a place far away from home that felt nice. Sophomores and second-year attendees of the event, Mercedes Victor and Ililani Kamaka, shared that they looked forward to this annual event, “We miss our island a lot, so instead of having to spend so much money just to fly home, the Lu’au allows us that at least for a night, they bring home to us.”
Of course, islanders weren’t the only ones enjoying this cultural evening. Barbara Stoltenberg loves attending Lu’aus, and upon hearing about Saint Martin’s occasion, travelled all the way from Vancouver with five other women to witness these incredible performances. Though she may not be a native to the islands, she enjoys their culture and traditions and excitedly expressed her amazement of the performances, “Wow, everyone looks so pretty!” she said, watching the events, “The music is nice, all Hawai’ian music is beautiful.” She then continued to relay her personal visits to the island of Maui, which she enjoyed.
Every year, this event is a big deal to many on campus. Both islanders and non-islanders alike come together in union to create something wonderful. Soft strums of Hawai’ian music and acoustic guitars playing in loud speakers filled up the pavilion, Keiki (kids) booths were set up for children and their parents, stringing together leis and making head pieces out of the crafts available. Tables selling an assortment of Hawaiian candies and souvenirs were set up, and, women dressed in different kinds of beautiful dresses with flowers and men in their button-up aloha shirts. The whole mood was set, the ambiance was thriving, and everybody was having a good time. Performances received positive feedback from the crowd after exceptional dancing coming from different Pacific Islander backgrounds. To some who grew up on the mainland, it is just a showcase of diverse culture. But to many islanders, this is what it means to be at home.