University of Minnesota Duluth
MyU | Search | People | Departments | Events | News

 Aloha Spirit

Exploring Intercultural Communication in Hawaii - Part 2

Caroline D. Kennedy and Li'i Kaluna
UMD Student Caroline D. Kennedy (right) with Steve and Phina Wroblewski's daughter, Li'i, at the Plantation house.
Jessica Wolfgram & Caroline D. Kennedy
Fellow UMD student, Jessica Wolfgram (left), and Caroline getting ready for the luau.

Aloha again! The last time I checked in with you, I was just starting my experience in Hawaii. Now, I am staying on the Big Island of Hawaii, in the community of Pahala. So far I have met a handful of locals: Steve and Phina Wroblewski, Li’i and Mona (Steve and Phina’s daughters), Sonny, Pali, Demetrius Oliveira and many others. As always in Hawaii, they have taken us in as ohana - family. The group stays at an old Plantation house and enjoys talking story. Talking story is sharing stories, memories, and conversation with those surrounding you. We also enjoy music and, of course, eating on the porch every night.

The food is so fresh here. Not fresh from the supermarket, but fresh as in just killed. Steve kills the fish, the boars, the goats and whatever else we eat. Any other produce is picked fresh from a garden that day. Lettuce, corn, tomatoes, you name it. The group is so busy, we haven’t have time to go boar hunting with Steve, but everyone does their part in helping to prepare the food. I even gutted a fish with my bare hands! A typical meal for us includes some form of pork, white rice, macaroni salad, and perhaps a green salad. The people we have met here have taught and shown us proof that if you take care of the land, the land takes care of you. With food this amazing, it is impossible to deny the amazing land of these islands.

The best part of this island is being able to interact with locals, learn what they have to share about their culture, their traditions, and their spiritual beliefs. As an intercultural communication course, we students are expected to make connections with the native people and truly take something away from what they have to say. Steve teaches us to be resourceful with the land around us. Pali teaches us about the struggles Hawaiians have to go through to stop land development and talks about the hardships of restoring Hawaii and its culture. Mona teaches us how to make tea leaf leis out of the plant in the front yard. Everyone we have met here has something important and interesting to say. It seems impossible to not gain something from it.

A favorite night for me was the luau held at the Plantation house. A luau, simply put, is a Hawaiian party; however, this was not the stereotypical luau many on the mainland have in their minds. It certainly wasn’t like the luau I have been to before. There were no tiki torches, flames, or massive costumes. It was just students, the community, good food and music, and a feeling of all being together and being ohana.

All students performed a hula during the luau that we learned the night before. I got all of the moves down, and I think I did a pretty good job, but I can’t imagine learning multiple hulas. I think I would get all the various steps confused. Good thing we didn’t have to hula all night. In fact, we even showed them a few dances including the soul train. I danced all night to the live music from popular Hawaiian musician Demetrius Oliveira of the band Ka’u. Amazing to think I danced all night under the stars . . . literately. I can guarantee this will be a night I will never forget.

Until next time, keep the island vibes going. Listen to “Don’t Stop The Rhythm” by Kolohe Kai on YouTube.


Written by Caroline D. Kennedy

Edited by Kathleen McQuillan-Hofmann,

UMD home page editor, Cheryl Reitan,
NEW RELEASES, UMD media contact, Susan Latto,, 218-726-8830

© 2018 University of Minnesota Duluth
The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer.
Last modified on 04/22/11 02:36 PM
University of Minnesota Campuses
Crookston | Duluth | Morris
Rochester | Twin Cities