Hui O Hawai’i members share glimpse of life in Hawaii

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    The number of TCU students from Hawaii has almost quadrupled since 2008.

    Heath Einstein, admission counselor, said about half of the students who apply from Hawaii are admitted.

    The university’s Hui O Hawai'i organization is in its second year. The organization aims to help new Hawaiians transition into college and to show the campus community what it is truly like to live in the Aloha State.

    With 19 Hawaiian students enrolled at the university in 2012, Hui O Hawai’i has almost 15 members this year, Jelene Wong, vice president of Hui O Hawai'i, said.

    Wong, a junior speech pathology major, said the goal of the organization is to provide a support system for Hawaiian students. She said they also want to reach out to non-Hawaiian natives as a way to spread Hawaiian culture throughout the university.

    “They think we go to the beach all the time or live in grass huts, Joridan Sele, a senior math major, said. “Honestly, it’s kind of like this place but with a lot more trees.”

    However, some Hawaiian natives who attend the university said there are still a few big differences between their home state and Fort Worth.

    Sophomore fashion merchandising major Bre Ball said that in Hawaii, no one wears shoes in the house because it helps maintain cleanliness.

    Sophomore pre-major Leahna Luke said Hawaiians refer to flip-flops as "slippers."

    Junior math major Nick Leota said it is rare to hear a car horn on his home island of Kauai.

    The pace of life on the Hawaiian Islands, they all said, was one of the biggest differences from life in Texas.

    “There’s one thing I’ve learned from my years at home is that I need to create space in my life where I slow down and understand and really work on my personal growth, instead of moving a thousand miles an hour all the time because I just have to be productive,” Leota said.

    “I benefit a lot from interacting with the kids from Hawaii because they kind of just make me slow down and enjoy life for a little bit and not worry so much," Emi Takeuchi, junior speech pathology major and Hui O Hawai'i president, said. "I think that’s a big part of life and it makes life more enjoyable."

    Along with the slower pace of life in Hawaii comes a love for food and family.

    “I feel like 'Lilo and Stitch' is the closest we have to a real Hawaiian movie ever. They show the people watching that family means more to a person from Hawaii than anything else,” Sele said.

    Takeuchi said the food is unique and hard to find anywhere else.

    “I feel that is how a lot of different cultures at home share with each other…through food," Takeuchi said.

    Last year at a meeting, members of the organization made spam musubi, a snack made from white rice, spam, seaweed and teriyaki sauce.

    Another aspect of Hawaiian culture is the hula, a traditional Hawaiian dance that often tells a story, Wong said. One song she shared, “E Pili Mai,” is a love story. The title, she said, translates as "Come to Me."

    This school year, the club intends to host a luau in the spring. A luau is a huge cultural celebration with Hawaiian food and performances such as the hula, Tahitian and Hakka dances, Wong said.

    “Hopefully a few years down the line, [luau] will be a known thing,” Wong said.

    The organization meets on the first Monday of every month in the Brown-Lupton University Union at 5 p.m. Meetings are open to all students.