Almost nowhere in the world will you find every ethnic group a minority, but in Hawaii. I think about how lucky I am to be a part of this multiethnic society, and to be able to experience the different cultures everyday just by going to school, the food I eat, and the friends I make.
From the day I was born, I was already surrounded by the multiethnic society, just in the baby nursery. My first friend in preschool was half Japanese, and half Portuguese. I still remember how she had the best home lunch out of all the other kids. Spam musubi (rice cake topped with a slice of Spam and seaweed) and shoyu chicken (soy sauce chicken). As I got to know her family, I noticed that even though she had a Portuguese last name, her family was more influenced by the Japanese culture.
Throughout the years, I've made friends with many others from different backgrounds. But when I try to separate the ways their families differ from mine, I can't really find any. It seems like the local people of Hawaii are a nationality by itself. Each individual is valued and respected.
There are many things in Hawaii that the local people understand, but may sometimes confuse a visitor to the islands. Such things like calling everyone older than yourself, "Auntie" or "Uncle." This doesn't mean that they're related to you, but instead it is a way of showing closeness and respect for your elders. Another quality is removing your shoes before entering a home. This custom may have started from the Japanese immigrants. The most famous trademark that we all share in Hawaii is the "Shaka" sign (a hand gesture known to all locals). It means "Thank You," "Way to Go!", "Right On", "Hang Loose", or anything positive.
One of the things I've noticed on my trip to the East Coast this past summer was that a local from Hawaii can spot another local anywhere in the world. Maybe it's the way they dress and talk. Many locals wear tee shirt and shorts with rubber slippers for shoes. But the giveaway is when they talk. The "Pidgin" language is our unique specialty no in the world can copy. You have to live in Hawaii to truly pick up the slang. It seems to me that the Pidgin language is a combination of all the different ethnic languages translated into English.
Lastly, I'd like to mention the greatest thing about the local culture, yeah you guessed it the local food! I must say we have the best and finest food anywhere. Where else can you find a giant food court? Many of our unique dishes are a blend of ethnic foods. The "Manapua" is good example. It really is called "charsiubao" in China . But somewhere along the line it got the Hawaiian name "Manapua." If you are a visitor, it is so easy to find something different to bring home after a trip from Hawaii.
Recently, we just celebrated the Chinese New Year. This is the year of the Ram. My friend's mom made our family Gau (Chinese mochi). She loves making it even though she isn't Chinese. This shows that we all have learned to share and appreciate the other cultures with great respect.
The people of Hawaii are a very special group. They have a special way of welcoming anyone who is willing to learn and respect the local culture. I'm proud to say that I am a part of that living "Aloha."
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