We recently hosted twelve students from Japan who came to Pahoa to study Hawaiian language. It was actually a group of adult ukulele students led by their instructor, Okada sensei. Our local charter school Hawaii Academy of Arts and Sciences provided the facilities and Hawaiian language instruction. (Great job Mehana!) Not only did our guests learn new Hawaiian phrases, they studied local culture, interacted with students at lunch, helped teach Japanese class, some even studied Tahitian dance!
Our guests raved about HAAS and how friendly and respectful the kids were. They especially enjoyed “hanging with local people”, something most visitors to our islands don’t get to experience. But the kids at HAAS benefited just as much from the cultural exchange. And the beauty of it is that it’s a win-win situation: HAAS will be compensated and spend the proceeds wisely. The long-term goal is to develop and fund home-stay programs in Japan for HAAS students studying Japanese language and culture.
And the closing party was a blast! A big mahalo to Okada sensei and his students for a memorable evening: sensei played and sang like the pro that he is, while his students performed hula with grace and beauty. Also a big “arigato” to Darren and Chino for jamming and singing with our guests–and to Nancy for joining in the hula festivities! And props to Junior, Tunji and Grady; your opening performance energized everyone and set the tone for the rest of the party. Everyone went home smiling. And the proof is in the pictures below. 🙂 Video clips are at the end: