Nestled deep within the heart of mainland U.S., there is an island of Hawaiian culture thriving at Creighton. Each spring, this island of Hawaiian students known as Hui O Hawaii organizes the Lu’au, a celebration of Hawaiian culture that has become one of Creighton’s biggest annual events.
With food, cultural performances, dances and songs, the Creighton community had the opportunity to take part in celebrating Hawaii’s unique culture on Saturday.
This year, the Hui O Hawaii club sold at least 1,010 tickets to students and people in the Omaha community, but accommodated about 1,100 people in total including performers and those who participated in organizing the event. The club sold out on tickets quickly this year.
Rasela Vili, Hui O Hawaii club’s Luau Chair, said that the organizing committee usually plans to sell at least 1,000 tickets each year due to the limited space.
Ka Huaka’i ‘O Ka Pakipika: The Journey of the Pacific was this year’s theme. It was based on a powerful story that told the tale of a Hawaiian princess who is bound to be the next queen of her island. She embarks on a journey throughout Polynesia where she learns new cultures and meets different people and through this she realizes how much she appreciates about Hawaii, her homeland. The story, said Vili, was inspired by the many students from Hawaii who spend years away from their home to be at Creighton.
“Home isn’t just a word. It is not just the place where I am from. It is not just the place where I live. Home is so much more than that. It is the warm feeling I get when I’m surrounded by my loved ones, and it is the serenity I feel as I run my hands and feet through the sand. That is what I had in mind for my vision for this year’s Lu’au.”
College of Arts and Sciences junior Megan Dalmacio said that the meaning behind the theme was one that she resonated with.
“I think the idea of leaving home to find who you are is an idea that a lot of students, not just those from Hawai’i, can identify with. I think they did a great job exploring that theme through the specific lens of Hawaiian and Polynesian culture.”
Authentic Hawaiian food is part of the annual Lu’au tradition. This year, the Hui O Hawaii club followed its tradition of inviting a chef from the islands to come and prepare the event’s menu.
Robert Segundo, this year’s chef, has been Creighton’s Lu’au chef for the past years. Segundo, a native of Kauai, has had over 20 years of experience serving in the food industry. Segundo currently works as the director of catering for Bon Apetit, a catering company that serves Seattle University.
Salad, rice, ginger noodles, chicken, pork, pineapple and several more dishes filled the plates of those who attended. With a tasty blend of Hawaiian spices, the pork brought out a tender and juicy taste of which several people seemed fond. Blaine, a native of Omaha said that the food was enjoyable.
“It is an interesting way to see Hawaiian culture,” he said.
The audience got to see the beauty and diversity of Hawaiian culture in the performances.
Jayden Zariello, one of the dancers, described the goal to “bring the island culture to Omaha.” Through the story about the Hawaiian princess, the audience had witnessed this island culture. The story’s plot included a haka, an ancient Maori war dance that was performed by several male dancers. Each major turning point in the story was punctuated with a dance performance. Each dance presented a unique mood, difference costumes and music. The dances consisted of a variety of graceful hula performances while others offered an energetic and active aura.
“The students who put the Lu’au on did an amazing job,” said Kathryn Padilla, a Spanish professor at Creighton.
Several students who attended this year’s Lu’au appreciated the cultural experience that the event offered.
“Cultural organizations like Hui O’ Hawaii are able to bring something unique and different to Creighton. Only at Creighton can you experience one complete Lu’au in the Midwest. My favorite part of the Lu’au was the food and seeing the hard work that my friends put into this event,” said College of Arts and Sciences sophomore Owen Wurst.