Recently I went on a trip to Hawaii to visit my family. I stayed on the island of Oahu for the summer. Everything from the water and scenery to the buildings were beautiful. I enjoyed going to the beach and the shopping malls. I was lucky enough to get to go to the Honolulu Zoo for a day and see some cute animals. I also was able to learn about the history of the 50th state by going to the Polynesian cultural center. However, something struck me that changed my perspective on the way I look at the world around me. There are more ways of life than just my own.
I am from Washington state where the majority of people typically share the same cultural background. When I was in Hawaii, it was a bit of a surprise to see that there were so many ethnic groups. The groups ranged from Filipino, Hawaiian, Japanese and Samoan to Chinese and Korean. All the diverse people embraced each other in a way. I was quick to learn this when I went to the popular local restaurant Zippy’s on my visit this summer. When I opened the menu I saw classics like chili cheese fries, and spaghetti. However, I also saw things that normally wouldn’t even be at the same restaurant, like chicken katzu, lau lau, kalua pig, Portuguese sausage stew, and the famous zip pack which includes spam, white rice covered in nori and fried chicken.
It seemed all the love for one another’s background had been funneled into community pride. Whenever I went to the stores in Hawaii I could see it everywhere. From the “Hawaii” beach towels to the “Aloha” and 808 shirts. Reading the Star Bulletin newspaper, there was a large section for “community,” back home, I knew that there wasn’t even a “community” section.
Before I had gone to Hawaii I would have thought of it as undeveloped land full of coconuts, palm trees, beautiful oceans and a normal, uninteresting group of citizens. On the contrary, after spending my summer in Hawaii, I became acquainted with a diverse populace with an acceptance for one another and a strong sense of community. Now when I think of Hawaii, I think of the beautiful people and their cultures as well as the tantalizing food and customs. Sometimes I find myself wishing I had some of the sweet treats and savory snacks that can only be found in Hawaii. I hope one day to return and to once again live as the Hawaiians do.
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