“I am more than grateful and there are no words to describe how happy I’ve been this past week. I think I’ve really started to find myself and I feel that I’ve really been reunited with the Hawaiian and Tahitian cultures.”
Building on the success of its predecessor, PAAC organized a second study tour to French Polynesia (Tahiti) to provide local youth with the opportunity to hone and share their understanding of Hawaiian culture and arts. The 10 student participants hailed from Campbell, Farrington, Wai‘anae, Mililani, Nanakuli, and Moloka‘i high schools, as well as Kapolei Charter School and Halau Ku Mana Charter School.
Building upon their previous hula experience, participants spent three months training together under the direction of Kumu Noelani Nickens to perfect a repertoire of hula, mele, and oli, which they shared with peers and community members throughout their week-long trip in March to Tahiti and Moorea.
See more pictures in our Gallery.
Students visited several different public, private, and vocational high schools, a family-run immersion pre-school, and the Arioi Cultural Center, where they were welcomed warmly and taught songs, dances, language, and the cultural traditions of a sister-Polynesian culture. One of the highlights of the trip was the home stay experience graciously hosted by families of students at Ta‘aone High School.
After the trip, all participants expressed a greater desire to further their Hawaiian studies and share their knowledge and passion with their peers.
In May, our students were able to reciprocate the hospitality they received in Tahiti when their friends from Ta‘aone High School and the Lycee Hotelier visited O’ahu on their schools’ study trips to Hawai’i. PAAC’s second Polynesian Cultural Exchange Study Tour to Tahiti proved equally meaningful as the first, deepening the ties of friendship between our islands.
“I’ve learned that having roots and upkeeping the culture is important because most people only talk about their ethnicity but don’t know anything about their culture or history. I’ve learned how important it is to upkeep our traditions and cultural aspects because they will become lost if we don’t continue them.”