Hawaii club welcomes new students to Biola

As freshmen cross the Pacific from Hawaii to Biola, a campus club provides a home away from home.

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From left to right: Pictured above are Aaron Kim, this year’s Hawaii Club President, and club officers Angela Uyehera, Christine Choy and Elizabeth Farber. These four students aim to organize a group of students who share culture, food, and common interests | JORDAN NAKAMURA / The Chimes

Emily Arnold, Writer

There has been a record-breaking influx of freshmen from Hawaii this year, and 24 of them have joined Biola’s very own Hawaii Club. Here, they have an opportunity to live out the spirit of Lokahi (unity), Ohana (family), and Aloha (love). Their hope is to become a catalyst for the comfort of incoming Hawaiian students’ as they transition into Biola.

Sophomore Christine Choy, Hawaii Club treasurer, remembers how meeting people from the Islands helped her adjust to Biola.

“I naturally felt more comfortable with the Hawaii students,” she said. “It seems like most Hawaii kids automatically feel comfortable around each other. You find things to relate to about home.”

Home away from home

“Ohana means family. Family means no one is left behind, or forgotten.” This quote, made familiar by Disney’s “Lilo and Stitch,” represents a mentality that the Hawaii Club seeks to live out. They strive to create a home away from home for those native to Hawaii,as well as those who just simply enjoy the culture.

President Aaron Kim shares their commitment to this purpose within their mission statement.

“The Biola Hawaii Club seeks to educate and share the spirit of Lokahi (unity), Ohana (family), and most emphatically, Aloha (love), through music, hula dance, food, and fellowship–– all for the purposes of glorifying God and exuding the love of Christ to one another.”

Sharing Culture through Food

While one of the club’s main goals is to help the freshmen integrate into the community, it also has many other purposes. For instance, one of their objectives is to share Hawaiian culture with students who are not native to the state. Typically, this is achieved through the sharing of food. Preparation for their Monday meetings always includes making delicious Hawaiian treats.

Laughing at this realization, Choy said, “I guess we like to eat, so we pretty much always have some sort of food.”

Together, they savor many snacks native to the Islands, such as “li hing mui,” a dried plum powder that is commonly sprinkled onto slices of apple and pineapple. Another favorite snack is “hurricane popcorn,” which is regular popcorn covered in butter and then sprinkled with bits of seaweed, sesame seeds, and rice crackers shaped like moons and stars.

While they do enjoy snacking on many native foods together, the students from Hawaii also relate on many other levels. Many would assume they share a commonality such as surfing or being laid-back.

“Oooh! Do you surf?!” Perceptions and misperceptions

This is the most common follow-up question Hawaiians receive once people find out where they are from, said Choy. Contrary to popular belief, not all Hawaiians surf.
While surfing is not something they all partake in, many do have high standards for beaches. Most of them have had to adjust to how much colder and dirtier the water is in California. Apparently, the water here feels like ice when compared to the warm beaches near Hawaii.

Actually, not all Hawaiians are even technically “Hawaiians.” The proper way would be to explain that they are simply from Hawaii. A person is not technically considered “Hawaiian” unless they have Hawaiian blood.

The students from Hawaii can really relate with language as well. They do speak English on the Islands, although most of them also know a bit of pidgin, the unofficial language of Hawaii. Pidgin can be compared to English slang or even bad grammar.

Luaus, Spam musubi, and the Aloha spirit

When asked to sum up the beauty of the Hawaiian community here at Biola, freshman Rachel Kaneshiro said, “It’s an awesome, casual community filled with the aloha spirit. I love the food and I can be more myself–– especially when I get to speak pidgin— without people giving me strange looks.”

Apart from their focus on Biola freshmen and strengthening the community, they also have many ideas for the future of the club. They are hoping to put on a luau next semester, which anyone would be welcome to attend.

As for the near future, the Hawaii Club will be having a meeting in which Spam musubi, a type of Spam sushi, will be introduced.

“They’re so good, I could eat six in one sitting,” said Choy. “Pretty much every Hawaii person likes Spam, but there are some who don’t.”

The Hawaii Club meets every other week throughout the year, sharing stories, delighting in Hawaiian snacks, and fellowshipping together as they praise God and spread the spirit of Lokahi, Ohana, and Aloha.

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