Hawaiian Style

Describe an experience of cultural difference, positive or negative, you have had or observed. What did you learn from it? (250 word maximum)

Being born and raised in Hawaii as a hapa haole, or half-Caucasian and half-Asian, I have many insights about the local culture of my homeland. Today, Hawaiian culture doesn’t just consist of the native Hawaiians, who currently make up less than 18 percent of Hawaii’s population, but also includes the minorities within the Aloha State. Every individual in Hawaii is part of a minority population, due to the preponderance of cultures and ethnicities. This diverse population began with immigrants who arrived to work on the plantations, such as the Japanese, Chinese, and Portuguese. From this assimilation, an entirely unique local culture emerged. Although commonalities between Hawaii and the mainland exist, Hawaii’s distinctiveness is what makes it unique and appealing. A local language called Pidgin originated from the integration of diverse cultures at the plantations. This vernacular is widely used throughout the islands by anyone who stays long enough to pick it up. The Aloha Spirit – a warm, friendly, giving attitude towards all – is a vital component of island life. The concept of Hawaiian Time implies a laid-back lifestyle, and often results in a family-oriented existence. I’ve also become accustomed to calling all adults – whether neighbors, acquaintances, or family friends – Aunty and Uncle instead of Mr. or Ms. All of these characteristics express Hawaii’s open, accepting way of life, and make me proud to be Hawaiian at heart. Although commonalities between Hawaii and the mainland exist, Hawaii’s distinctions make it unique and appealing. A local language called Pidgin originated from cultures integrating at the plantations. This vernacular is widely used throughout the islands by anyone who stays long enough to pick it up. The Aloha Spirit is a vital component of the islands that involves a warmth, friendliness, and giving attitude towards all. The concept of Hawaiian Time implies a laidback lifestyle and results in a family oriented existence. I’ve also come accustomed to calling all adults, whether neighbors, acquaintances, or family friends, Aunty and Uncle instead of Mr. or Ms. All of these characteristics express Hawaii’s social acceptance and family oriented way of life. This environment has familiarized me with various cultural practices while making family life a priority. With these numerous contrasts from other states, I am proud to be Hawaiian-at-heart.

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