Asian Pacific Heritage Month

Many immigrants have influenced the culture of the United States of America. All of them bring with them customs and traditions from their own homeland.

Throughout the year, various festivals are held to remember the various lifestyles of the many ethnic groups in the U.S.

The Asian American-Pacific Islander Association and the International Student Federation celebrated the Asian American Heritage Month by hosting a luau at the Clocktower on May 17.

This was the first event of a weeklong celebration on campus that will culminate Thursday when the Asian Pacific Variety show takes place inside the Amphitheater.

"Originally it was supposed to be an ICC Olympics and to eliminate this competition we rather have a friendly gathering," said James Lee, Associated Students liaison. "The month of May is Asian Pacific Heritage Month so we thought celebrating in a luau where everyone is familiar with the team would be festive and fun."

Around noon, music from the group Luau Spirit began to fill the air. The sound was so powerful that everybody's attention went right to the front of the Clocktower where two men were banging on bongos.

To the left of the bongo players there were decorations, which included ukuleles, various foods native to Hawaii, a hammock, candles and torches.

Ten minutes after the music began to play, four women in hula outfits came out to perform. These women were also part of the Luau Spirit. Moving like tall strands of grass with a slight breeze in the air, they began to sway their bodies to the music. The dance was the "Tahitian Orea."

They were in traditional Tahitian attire. After the performance of "Orea," the hula dances went into the crowd of spectators and grabbed six students with them.

These six individuals with the help of the dancers were given a few lessons on how to hula dance. The dance they were taught was "Ori Tahiti."

Each participant was given a minute to perform his newly acquired skills with the hula dancers. When the first five students were done, Nick Mataalii, Latino Student Union president, who is Samoan and Filipino, got his chance.

Along with Alewa Olotoa, one of the hula dancers, he stole the show, as Mataalii knew how to dance. At the closing moments of his performance the three remaining dancers came out to join Olotoa and Mataalii to dance.

"The dances are very important to our sprits," said Mataalii. "When I dance out there it like releases all my tensions."

Midway through the show the dancers took a break and a trivia game was held. Lee from the AAPIA spoke to the audience about the history of Hawaii before the game. The questions for the game were from what Lee said. At the end all seven of the participants were given a dashboard luau doll.

The Hula dancers came back and were dressed in Tahitian dresses. Two more exhibitions of dances were shown and then the show was over.

"The students were entertained- they were participating, and I thought it was well put out event," said Student Trustee Dina Cervantes.

During the whole events popcorn near the Science Building was served to all members of club. The popcorn was served with rice cakes and dried seaweed in it. This, according to several members of AAPIA, is Hawaiian popcorn.

"I enjoyed the dancers, the little trivia game, and I like the way it was decorated," Wendy Mejia said. "It was well organized."