Monday, November 11, 2013

Cultural Lessons at the Polynesian Cultural Center

Enjoying the bright sunny days with a light breeze kissing your cheeks, listening to the sound of the waves lapping repeatedly and stretching your legs on a deck chair with your sunglasses to shield from the sun and sipping cool pineapple juice or probably a pina colada is probably the very image most would dream of when it comes to holidaying in Hawaii. In fact, that is probably the Hawaii that most would know- not forgetting the Hawaiian shirts and the lei garlands symbotically hung around to welcome visitors upon arrival.
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However, the real Hawaii lies not in the fun under the sun alone, as there is more than just meets the eye (or the sunglasses) when it comes to this beautiful group of islands located off the coast of the United States of America. I have seen the beauty of the natural landscape formed by the volcanic movement on the islands and also experienced the tropical weather which the locals seem to bathe in just like what we have back at home. Coming to terms with the story of Hawaii, and the origins of the Hawaiians is something much more to look forward to.
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To say that Hawaii is a cultural place is an understatement; as the colony of islands is more than just a uni-cell of its own culture but rather a huge melting pot of a myriad of cultures which are greatly influenced by each other, though the local Hawaiian natives still dominate the reigning culture from its early days of civilization.
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The Polynesian Cultural Center is established to introduce these variety of cultures from all such islands to create the awareness and knowledge of their existence in their very location. Originally built with the intention to fund the students of the Brigham Young University Hawaii through the offering of jobs at the center; where students could help with the shows, performances, food eateries, rides, etc and at the same time, fund the scholarships for the needy young students. Image Hosted by PicturePush - Photo Sharing The center was majorly owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) ; with only part of the premises belonging to the University. Image Hosted by PicturePush - Photo Sharing
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Located on the northern shore of Oahu; Laie, the center is a popular tourist attraction with its daily schedules of live performances, rides taking place in its very premises. Image Hosted by PicturePush - Photo Sharing
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The shows and demonstrations of the local way of living within each polynesian tribe; such as Hawaiian, Fiji, Tahitian, Samoan, etc charms its visitors with the colorful culture and even offers the tourists an opportunity to be close and personal to experience for themselves the art of the culture.
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The villages are representatives of the respective Polynesian tribes and each of them have scheduled their own show times for visitors to enjoy the tribal show native to their culture. It is indeed interesting to see the different cultures which exist among us which we are not even aware of and I find this truly enriching; while pondering on the fact of how big yet small the world really is. (I am not even sure if some of the performers are even natives as they truly looked like they hail from the tribes themselves; which makes the performances all the more convincing and natural. Or perhaps they have had years of practice?) Image Hosted by PicturePush - Photo SharingImage Hosted by PicturePush - Photo SharingImage Hosted by PicturePush - Photo SharingImage Hosted by PicturePush - Photo Sharing

The dinner included in the ticket introduced us to another variety of the food and drinks from each of the culture; which is part of the whole educational package tour to really immerse ourselves to know the culture. Food is served in a large banquet hall and the servers were rather young and cheerful students from the University; dressed perfectly in typical Hawaiian or Polynesian costumes and wearing a bright smile to welcome each and every diner. Image Hosted by PicturePush - Photo SharingImage Hosted by PicturePush - Photo SharingImage Hosted by PicturePush - Photo Sharing

The performance not to be missed is the Ha - The Breath of Life which is one of the main highlights here. As it is a protected performance and not to spoil the surprise, no photos will be posted as no form of recording is allowed. However, it is truly one not to be missed as it integrates all the cultures and presents the Polynesian culture in a memorable and breathtaking manner - courtesy of the amazing performances put forward by the performers.

There is always much to look forward when on a holiday, and experiencing or learning about the culture is one of the best way to enjoy the scenes unfolding as we travel through the places each and every day during our trip. The Polynesian Cultural Center is truly a window to the true inner self of Hawaii....after all, if you do not know about the roots or the origins, how would you learn to love the place?

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