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Hawaiian Cultural Association Seeks to Spread Aloha Spirit

Club hosts annual lu’au Sunday at the GSU


Does the return of snow and frigid temperatures have you longing for a taste of paradise? You’ll have a chance to experience a bit of it when the BU Hawaii Cultural Association hosts its annual lu’au Sunday at the George Sherman Union Metcalf Ballroom. The traditional Hawaiian feast featuring music and dance will have hula performances, traditional lu’au delicacies like kalua pork and guava pound cake, and Hawaiian themed games. So dust off your aloha shirt and get ready for a night of tropical food and fun.

“The lu’au is a good way for people to escape their everyday routine and experience a culture that is extremely different from the one here,” says Hawaii Cultural Association copresident Jack Gregory (CAS’18, Questrom’18), a native of Oahu. “It gives people the opportunity to transport themselves for a couple of hours to paradise and feel like they are somewhere warm.”

The Hawaii Cultural Association, more commonly called the Hawaii Club, was founded in 1993, and the annual spring lu’au is in keeping with its mission of spreading “aloha spirit and awareness about Hawaiian culture.” Not surprisingly, the majority of the 80 or so members hail from the Aloha State, and many use the club to network, help other Hawaiian students adjust to life in Boston, and keep up with their traditional language, dance, and food.

“I knew when I came to school that I definitely wanted to have some Hawaii connections,” Gregory says. “I’ve always been very passionate about Hawaii, and I love where I’m from, so I wanted to get involved.”

Club copresident and Oahu resident Alec Nakamura (Questrom’18) was drawn to the club for similar reasons: “It was a way to reconnect and meet more people from home. I wanted to get the aloha spirit feel, especially in Boston.” And the club welcomes students from all over the world, not just those from Hawaii. “I think a lot of people want to learn about Hawaii,” Nakamura says, “so joining the club is a cool way to learn from the inside, from the actual point of view of people who are from Hawaii.”

Yearly events like movie nights, food tastings, trips, and fundraisers introduce non-Hawaiians to Hawaii’s unique culture. Fall semester the club hosted a movie night, offering members discounted tickets to a screening of the Disney blockbuster Moana, set in Hawaii. At the Movie and Musubi night, members watched Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates (filmed in Hawaii) while savoring spam musubis, a favorite Hawaiian snack made from fried spam and sticky rice wrapped in seaweed. An annual rite of (winter) passage is a bus trip each Columbus Day weekend to the stores at Wrentham Village Premium Outlets for a shopping spree to buy winter clothes (the first time for many to need coats, hats, and gloves) at discounted prices.

But the lu’au, marking its 23rd spring this year, is the club’s star attraction. It takes months of planning to pull it off, and it typically draws a crowd of between 200 and 250.

“The lu’au is the biggest event of the year and is where we have the largest reach across campus,” Gregory says. “People from all over BU come to experience the cultural dances and hear the stories behind how the lu’au was started.”

The theme of this year’s feast is One Love, and the evening will feature six hula performances, one of them a Haka, a traditional energetic war cry and dance, performed by BU’s men’s water polo club team members, as well as a guest performance by BU’s Ukelele Club. Interactive Hawaiian-themed games, including a “Pidgin Translation Challenge,” where audience members have to guess the English meaning of phrases spoken in Hawaiian slang, will be interspersed throughout the evening. Winners will be awarded prizes, such as gift cards from restaurants like the newly opened Davis Square Hawaiian seafood restaurant Pokéworks. The lu’au menu will include favorite Hawaiian dishes such as garlic chicken, lomi-lomi salmon, chow mein noodles, rice, haupia (a traditional Hawaiian dessert made from coconut milk), and the aforementioned kalua pork and pound cake with guava.

“My favorite part of Hawaiian culture is the openness and kindness that everybody has towards one another,” says Gregory, “I think the lu’au is a good way to share that, which is the reason why it’s become such a big tradition.”

The BU Hawaii Cultural Association’s annual lu’au is Sunday, March 19, from 5 to 8:30 p.m. in the GSU Metcalf Ballroom, 775 Commonwealth Ave. Purchase tickets, $13.50 for BU students, $14.50 for non-BU students, and $11.50 for groups of 10 or more BU students, online here.

Learn more about the Hawaiian Cultural Association on its Facebook page or email pauhana@bu.edu.

Liz Vanderau can be reached at vanderau@bu.edu.

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