VIDEO: Sharing the Aloha spirit through Hawaiian music and dance.
Aloha can be packaged as a gift, experienced as a Hawaiian way of living or heard in a popular song on the radio: "A-L-O-H-A…A little Aloha in our day." And for many local businesses, it's part of their brand name, taking up more than three pages in the O‘ahu phonebook, believe it or not. But the real question is: What does Aloha mean to you?
Aloha has a more literal definition of love, compassion, peace and affection. It's most often a way to say hello and goodbye, but, even more so, it's also a way of living in Hawai‘i. We saw it especially during the good 'ole days when our grandparents spent their time making lei or playing Hawaiian music. So much Aloha in their every step. Today, we still carry on such cultural traditions but sadly, not all of us do it on a regular basis. It's become more a hobby that we often fit into our busy lives.
Earlier this week, I got to see Aloha at its finest – a cultural exchange among up-and-coming generations from across the globe, with the word "Aloha" at the heart of every conversation. More than 120 youth delegates from around the world met with Native Hawaiian students from Kamehameha's Kapālama High School, as part of the welcoming ceremony for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC); they shared where they were from and talked about the importance of having unity in their personal lives as well as in their home countries.
Getting up-close-and-personal with some international APEC delegates.
As part of Hawaiian protocol to welcome newcomers, the students hosted a hō‘ike (to show, to exhibit) for the international delegates, which included native song, chant and dance. I talked story with one of the student performers, who said the hō‘ike's overall goal was to perpetuate the Aloha Spirit through all of these various mediums while also tying it into the early navigation to our Islands. And I have to say, they did all of that and more! The blend of colorful costumes, melodies and dance swelled throughout the school auditorium. One of the teachers chaperoning the student delegates said she's been to seven APEC Voices of the Future conferences so far, but this one had to be the best because they truly felt a sense of welcoming.
Perhaps that's what defines Aloha – a welcoming embrace that our islands offer to people and places around the world. Its spirit is not always apparent but unsurprisingly, in a time of APEC-induced protests and heavy traffic, more than a little Aloha still manages to make its way forth. Blame it on the Islands.
November 14th, 2011