March 2017 marked the first PAAC study tour to French Polynesia (Tahiti) with 11 students from across Hawaii. The students shared their knowledge and love of Hawaiian culture, and deepened their understanding of their place in the world in the most time-honored way – by leaving home. Mahalo to the Mamoru & Aiko Takitani Foundation and the Sidney Stern Memorial Trust for providing scholarships for this study tour.
Upon arrival at Faaa airport, the group was warmly welcomed with lei and performances from students and teachers. The group visited several high schools, a Tahitian language immersion pre-school, a non-profit promoting Tahitian cultural preservation, and even took part in one of Tahiti’s most famous dance troupes’ rehearsal as they prepared for the arrival of Hokulea.
At every exchange, PAAC students shared hula and mele they had practiced for months prior to the trip. They were also treated to dance, drum and haka performances by their peers.
Hawaiʻi students perform Hōkūleʻa Haʻa at Belvedere Lookout on Moorea, French Polynesia.
Part of the experience included a homestay with a Tahitian family which at first tested students’ comfort zones, but resulted in being one of the most enjoyable and impactful parts of the trip. Students left with a greater appreciation for their Hawaiian culture and newly instilled pride to live through their culture everyday like their Tahitian cousins.
Most students were first-time travelers outside of Hawaii and the U.S. so it was an eye-opening experience to be in another country with a culture that has so many shared roots. Students were able to reciprocate the hospitality they were shown in Tahiti by welcoming their friends from Taaone High School to Oahu just a few weeks after their visit.
Mahalo to Manuwai Peters from the Hawaii State Dept. of Education Office of Hawaiian Education, for helping with the coordination and development of this program, and to Taaone High School, Raapoto High School, Ecole de danse Matehaunui, and Hospitality School of Tahiti for hosting wonderful exchanges. Below is a video made by students from Taaone High School, which showcases the wonderful effect of international student exchange through language, culture, knowledge, stories, and friendship.
Mahalo to the Mamoru & Aiko Takitani Foundation and the Sidney Stern Memorial Trust for providing scholarships for this study tour.
Melcolm Kilaulani, Jr., Campbell High School
Kamomikea Logsdon, Campbell High School
Maraiah Miner, Castle High School
Kaimana Nelson, King Kekaulike High School
Noeau Nickens, Halau Ku Mana Charter School
Lake Stevens-Ram, Castle High School
Kahana Thomas, Campbell High School
Kaleihulu Victor, Halau Ku Mana Charter School
Olivia Weaver-Cabinatan, Nanakuli High School