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Intercultural Day brings hundreds to HPU

by Saida Oliver, Women's Life editor

The 21st biannual Intercultural Day was celebrated on Fort Street Mall April 22 by students, locals, and tourists, old and young. Sponsored by the International Student Organization (ISO), the event is a celebratory way of bringing life outside the classroom to one of the five themes of HPU, world cultures. “It was such an awesome day,” said facilitator Janine Dissmore. “I think it was the biggest turnout that I’ve ever seen!”

The ISO comprises a Council of Countries that includes of members of the International Student Association, the Career Services Center, and Student Life. This year, HPU partnered with the Fort Street Mall Business Improvement District. “We had better marketing this year, so more people were able to enjoy the event,” said Ann Newton, director of International Student Services.

The mall was organized with cultural exhibits displaying native artifacts, historical photos, and other cultural learning tools. Lindsey Rowland, an HPU senior, walked around in awe, “soaking up,” she said, everything the exhibits had to offer. “Every year I look forward to Intercultural Day because I’m from Ohio and there’s really no one there that has much culture,” Rowland said. The exhibits allowed guests to imaginarily enter different countries and experience their culture.

At the Thai booth, onlookers watched a man carve a watermelon into a decorative centerpiece,a work of art. Graduate student Nite Prvangviriya, explained its significance as decorations at weddings. “Loykatong,” she exclaimed. “Thank God for food and water.”

“ Singapore has a lot of ridiculous fines,” laughed junior Aaron Ley of the Malaysian Student Association. A picture poster of random fines confirmed his notion. “The funniest one is that you can get a $500 fine for chewing gum.”

David Burgsdorff, an HPU junior explained the German Student Association exhibit by saying that in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland people eat a lot of bread, chocolate, and candy, while drinking lots of beer. Unfortunately they couldn’t serve any of these.

The Vietnamese exhibit had framed displays of their currency through different governments, wars, and colonial eras. Freshman Linh Tran interactively taught viewers how to tie ribbons into good luck and friendship trinkets.

Andin Joy showed pictures of Cameroon’s rich landscape and its very active Mount Cameroon.
“ I think it is very important to show people all around the world our values and customs,” said sophomore Sheila Atuatasi.

The Samoan Club had a gorgeous display of a traditional home setting. To enter, guests were encouraged to remove their shoes before stepping on the mats. Inside was a television with dancers performing traditional dance. The Samoans chanted, “Uso!” which means brother, not to be mistaken for “Ufa,” which will not be explained. Tables were complete with customary artifacts. Senior Tali Satele excitingly described their significance.

The Chinese Student Association taught onlookers how to play Chinese chess, while the Japanese Student Association taught people how to play a traditional game with drums.

A little after noon, dressed from head-to-toe in customary attire, chanting and singing, while waving their flags, students marched through downtown Honolulu. After the parade, each country performed on stage. Special guests Na Keiki ‘O Manana, a children’s choral group from Manana Elementary school sang, each student wearing his or her native dress.

Attention-grabbing crowd pleasers were the Japanese modern dance, the Samoan’s dance and high energy, and a unique performance by Latinos Unidos.

Jerome Ramos of Latinos Unidos said, “There’s a huge Latin community at our school, believe it or not, but no one really knows it. Our organization has decided to create unity through dance.”

Jane Thomas, visiting O‘ahu from Denver, Colo. with her sons Jacob and Tyler, described her experience at Intercultural Day as phenomenal. “This was a culturally invigorating experience. I’m so glad I was able to experience it.”




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