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Hawaii Club prepares for its annual Luau

| Friday, March 23, 2018

The Hawaii Club will host its biggest event of the year, its annual Luau, this Saturday evening in the Dahnke Ballroom of the Duncan Student Center.

The club will present a showcase of hula and Tahitian dances, along with popular authentic Hawaiian food, a photo booth and lei and tea leaf bracelet making stations.

Sophomore Stephanie Araki, co-president of the Hawaii Club, said the club works with Hawaiian alumni in order to organize the event, and many alumni and relatives fly to Notre Dame to help with and attend the luau. 

“The alumni who fly in bring with them all of the foliage and flowers that we use in our stage decorations and centerpieces, so what everyone sees here is imported directly from Hawaii, which furthers the connection between our event and Hawaii,” Araki said.

An important aspect of the luau is the entertainment portion, which features a number of dances choreographed by sophomore Tia Williams, vice president of the Hawaii Club, and sophomore Veronica Perez.

“We have a women’s slow dance, a women’s fast dance, a men’s dance, a couples dance and a kahiko dance which is choreographed to a chant instead of a melody. For our finale, we like to do a well-known song, so it is usually a ‘Lilo and Stitch’ song,” Williams said.

Williams said learning hula is a great way to learn more about Hawaiian culture and the language, specifically because every move is related to the lyrics which the performers are taught when they learn the dance.

In between the dances, the emcee will explain some characteristics of Hawaiian culture and play some traditionally Hawaiian games to foster an understanding for Hawaiian society, Perez said.

Hawaii’s separation from the rest of the United States produces a unique environment from other states, sophomore Kiana Caranto said.

While functioning as a celebration of Hawaiian culture, Caranto said the luau is also meant to foster positive, familial sentiments indicative of Hawaiian attitudes.

“Everyone in Hawaii takes family very seriously. I’m sure you have heard of ohana, which is the Hawaiian term for family,” Caranto said. “We also talk a lot about the concept of aloha and the aloha spirit, which encourages Hawaiians to be very welcoming and to act very much like a large family.”

Araki said the organizers hope the luau will give students insights on general cultural differences and similarities, while also providing for an opportunity to appreciate Hawaiian culture.

“Luaus in Hawaii are to welcome special guests into the community and that’s what we’re trying to do here,” Araki said. “We’re trying to show everybody that we are family and we want everyone to be a part of our family as well.”

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About Serena Zacharias

Serena is a member of the class of 2021 majoring in Neuroscience and Behavior and minoring in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. She hails from the great cheese state of Wisconsin and is a former ND News Editor for The Observer.

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