Voyage through the Hawaiian islands in celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. The Pacific Islanders Club has organized its annual Lu’au event for all Portland State students to enjoy and appreciate the culture of the eight islands. The event will take place at 4:30 p.m. on May 14 at the PSU Peter W. Stott Center.
The Lu’au includes many different pieces, including vendors selling merchandise, as well as shaved ice and photo booths. A more ceremonial practice, the Kava Circle, will also take place.
“Kava is a native plant to the Western Pacific Islands,” said Xylia Lydgate, coordinator for the Lu’au. “They crush the Kava root and make a drink out of it and pass it around the group.”
The main event of the night begins at 6:30 p.m. The performance will consist of traditional dances from every island that the native advisers choreographed.
“It’s very representative of the culture,” Lydgate said. “The music is from that island too. [Attendees] get to see how we celebrate the islands through dance.”
President Jessel Galiza also elaborated about the main show. “It’s to take the guests and give them the experience of what it’s like to be there. We teach them all of our customs and our ways of doing things.”
Lu’au means gathering or celebration, and that’s what the Pacific Islanders Club is trying to convey with their Lu’au—a sense of welcoming all backgrounds to their culture.
The event promotes the individualistic aspects of each island’s unique culture. Galiza is excited for audiences to learn the differences of the islands and become more educated about the heritage.
“[There is a] specific topic for each island,” Galiza said. “Depending on the island it can either focus on the dances or that particular country’s state flower, or something about the island’s traditions.”
Galiza also hopes that the event can help break the stereotypes many people have about the islands. “I don’t want people to think about grass skirts or the way they pronounce words,” Galiza said. “Kind of like cultural appropriation.”
Both Lydgate and Galiza were born in Hawaii and joined the club because it offered a representation of their culture and home. For anyone interested in joining this social and cultural club, all are welcome.
The club meets every Friday from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the Native American Student and Community Center. It offers a variety of games and activities, as well as workshops such as preparing cultural foods. Anyone can show up to any of the meetings to learn more about the club.
Lydgate wants everyone to know that you don’t have to be a Pacific Islander in order to join.
“[We are] finding ways to reach out into the community,” Lydgate said. “[We want to] make sure that we are welcoming, not just to people from the Pacific Islands, but people from all backgrounds. And we want to make sure we are accessible to the community beyond campus.”
The club also acts as a home away from home for anyone struggling with the transition of moving to a new place. Lydgate and Galiza are aware that Oregon’s way of life is much different than that of the Pacific Islands.
“We offer programs for students and mostly give them [Pacific Islanders] a space where they can come to reach out to if they ever miss home,” Galiza said. “Especially the students.”
For those interested in signing up for the Pacific Islanders Club’s emails or looking for volunteer opportunities, email [email protected] Tickets for the Lu’au are free to PSU students, $5 for general public and staff, or $8 at the door.