It was “just another night in paradise” Sunday when the Hui O’Hawaii club put on their 19th annual lu’au at the Lory Student Center. The event is designed to educate students and non-students alike on the culture of Hawaii through music and food.
“The club is here to promote a better understanding of Hawaiian culture,” said Alice Campbell, a senior zoology major and president of the Hui O’Hawaii club. “It is my culture, and not enough people are aware of it.”
The lu’au, after the introduction by the emcees, started with a traditional Hawaiian dinner, complete with the Kalua pig that lu’aus are famous for. Other dishes served that are unique to the culture were Poi, a mixture of taro root and water, Lomi Lomi salmon made with different vegetables and Hawaiian salt and pineapples.
During dinner, entertainers quizzed guests on their knowledge of Hawaii.
“It was trivia about Hawaii the state, the monarchy and the culture,” Campbell said.
After the interactive part of the event was finished, the guests were introduced to the dances of the culture using traditional moves and stories.
A trait of Hawaiian dances is that all the moves are part of a story being told. The club stayed true to their history by choosing dances like this for their lu’au.
“One song is called ‘the Paddle Song’ and it is about paddling along,” said Kendal Rice, junior human development and family studies major and dancer in the lu’au. “Another one is called ‘Tahiti Tahiti,’ which is a welcoming song.”
Watching and participating in the dance can be just as exciting when the story of the dance is known, Rice said.
“(You) really get into (the dance) when you know the story,” she said. “It is really neat to tell the story with a song and speak with your hands.”
Not all dancers were from the club or the ethnicity. The club is open to participation from all ethnicities so dancers like Rice, who is not Hawaiian, can experience the culture.
“(People from the culture) are very welcoming and are there to help pronounce words,” Rice said. “We also have powwows where we can talk about the culture.”
That is what the director of Student Life at Larimer County Community College, Keith Robinder, found appealing about the event. He, along with other faculty members from the college, came down for the event with their international students to learn more in the open environment.
“We want our students to gain more awareness of the Hawaiian culture and have a good time while getting to know one another in our last big event before finals,” he said.
The Hui O’Hawaii club also was designed to help students from Hawaii make the transition to the United States and Colorado a bit easier, Campbell said. This is still true despite the loss in members with the repeal of the in-state tuition agreement between the two states.
“Our population of Hawaiian students declined this year. We used to be at around 200 students and now we’re at 80,” Campbell said. “(But) we’re still trying to unite and build a strong community.”
Skylar Rick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.