Apr 242005
Authors: Tim Pennington

Some students got a taste of their own culture while others were introduced to Hawaiian traditions Sunday night in the Lory Student Center.

CSU's Hui 'O Hawaii hosted its 18th annual luau Sunday night, entitled "Na Pua 'O Hawaii," or The Flowers of Hawaii.

"It's an important tradition," said Jesse Dowsett, a junior mechanical engineer. "All of the Colorado schools have a special luau."

Traditional food was served at the luau, and patrons were treated to live music and dancing. There were 30 hula dancers as well as eight "keiki," or children, dancers.

"It's good for students to see what we have to offer," said Michael Cieslak, a sophomore computer engineering major. "The dancers need to share their dance with the whole campus."

The luau marked the end of the Asian Fest 2005, a weeklong exploration and celebration of Asian and Pacific Islander culture. Hui 'O Hawaii is CSU's Hawaii-student support system, promoting understanding of Hawaiian culture as well as partnering up with the Asian/Pacific American Student Services to sponsor various events.

"I'm excited to get lei'd and have some great food," said Chris Lovely, a sophomore recreation and tourism major. "What better way to spend my Sunday night."

More than 550 people attended the luau, not including the many volunteers who served food, danced and performed the music.

"I'm going to set this place on fire," said Stacee Hironaga, a sophomore biology major who was also a dancer in the night's event.

Planning for the event started in November with countless hours spent making the leis, leaf skirts and preparing the displays.

"Way more stuff goes into an event like this than people could ever imagine," Cieslak said.

The Hawaiian luau was aimed at bridging the gap between the different cultures Hawaiian students experience at CSU. One of Hui 'O Hawaii's missions is to assist in the transition of Hawaiians to life away from the islands.

"It's a different culture. Most people don't know much about Hawaiian culture," said Tiffany Nunam, a sophomore equine science major. "It's all about flowers, food and happiness; basically just 'aloha.'"

The attitude in the ballroom included excitement and awe of the various Hawaiian traditions.

"I wanted to support diversity in the school," said Alex Hernandez, a freshman history major. "I think it's important to promote diversity as much as we possibly can."

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