In a few weeks my college is going to be having a talent show, and I decided to enter. The people I have mentioned it to expect me to say that I will be singing or something, so they are always slightly surprised to hear that I am dancing. I will be performing a hula that I learned during one of my six years in a halau (hula school) going up. I chose to dance a to a song that is ‘auana (modern) rather then kahiko (traditional). Although the song I chose to do is a lot of fun and I believe people will enjoy it, part of me wishes I had chosen a different song. At first I thought that maybe I was scared that people wouldn’t enjoy the other ones as much. But I think the real reason is because I didn’t think they could appreciate them like they should be appreciated. I realized this because I think in some ways thats how I felt. Now that I am older and have moved away I wish I had continued dancing Hula. There were many times I wished I had gone back to my halau, but since it was 45 minutes away that made it hard. It taught me more about the culture I grew up in, and while I have a small understanding I don’t think I truly appreciated it until it was too late.
I started thinking about this as I saw things about the Merrie Monarch festival pop up in my Facebook news feed. For those of you who don’t know, the Merrie Monarch festival is a week long festival on the Big Island of Hawaii that is dedicated to preserving and promoting the Hawaiian culture. It is a way to continue the education of the Hawaiian culture and history for people in Hawaii as well as other places in the world. Halau’s from all over prepare the entire year for it.
Last week the Merrie Monarch started popping up all over my news feed and this morning I watched the performance of the Miss Aloha Hula 2016 winner. I attended the Merrie Monarch with my halau when I was young, but I was too young to enjoy it. As I watched I was in awe, and it made me wish that I had been older when I had the chance to attend the festival. Perhaps some day I will have that chance. But right now I’m sitting in my dorm in Michigan thinking about the history and culture of the Hawaiian people and wishing I could share this appreciation with someone. I want people to not just appreciate it as something in a far off land. Something that they know might exist but never think about. I want them to understand what a beautiful thing the Hawaiian culture is.
It’s been two years since I have come to the mainland for college, and far longer since I was a member of my halau. As much as I wish people knew and could appreciate a little more about the Hawaiian culture, I don’t think I’m the person to help that. Being born and raised in Hawaii isn’t enough. My six years of being part of a halau, and semester of Hawaiian history in high school is not nearly enough to qualify me to do it. Those things have simply given me a way to appreciate it a little bit more. I am proud to be from Hawaii, and I am proud to know how to dance the six or so songs I do. My respect for the Hawaiian culture I was raised around growing up is incredibly high. I only wish I could be more part of it now.