As much as things change, the more they stay the same.
The Southern Oregon University Ho’opa’a Hawaii Club hosted the 20th Annual Luau at Ashland High School. The theme this year was E Ola Mau Ke Aloha or “Long Live the Aloha Spirit.” According to Aloha International, the Aloha Spirit refers to the mindset “to a powerful way to resolve a problem, accomplish any goal, and to achieve any state of mind or body that you desire.”
Three-time MC of the event and SOU student Darius Kila says, “The thing we want to last in the club is the Aloha Spirit. So we said let’s honor everyone that has come before us, by continuing what they started 20 years ago.”
Though the Aloha Spirit remains, tangible changes to the Hawaii Club Luau happen every year. It was at a new location this year – Ashland High, which Kila said was an adjustment. Mayor John Stromberg was in attendance, the first Ashland mayoral appearance at the Luau in recent memory. Additionally, Kila was joined onstage by SOU Student Body President Torii Uyehara, the first double-MC for the luau in a few years.
The songs were also more challenging, and one – the dance led by senior Nate Timoteo – was a Siva Samoa, a traditional Samoan dance. SOU President Roy Saigo was also in attendance for the second year. A few of the dances were similar to those of past year’s, another tribute to the past.
Kila says the food was also an improvement; this year one of the club member’s father helped A’viands out in making the traditional Hawaiian food. In past years parents gave instruction but the assistance was more hands-on this year.
Each year at the Luau, the senior dance, (this year the Siva), is performed and audience members are encouraged to throw money on the stage to support the club’s funds. This year, the Hawaii Club decided to donate the money raised to Relay for Life – which amounted to $350 in a mere three minute performance.
Another change for Kila and the Luau could be on the horizon. Kila isn’t sure whether he’ll come back to MC his fourth SOU Luau, but says, “It means the world to me that after three years I can continue to be on that stage and people still love me … We are grateful for everybody supporting us for 20 years. And we only look forward to what 20 years from now will look like.”
As much as things may change in 20 more years, it’s clear the Aloha Spirit will remain in the SOU Hawaii Club.