LAIE, HI – The Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC) is a proud recipient of the Kaiaulu grant from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA). The funding will go toward the Hawaii-Utah Learning Advancement (HULA) program, a joint effort between the PCC, BYU-Hawaii, and Utah Valley University (UVU) that promotes cross-cultural “engaged learning” and cultural re-immersion for native Hawaiian and Polynesian students who have been raised in, or relocated to, the continental United States. The program is designed to promote cultural understanding, knowledge, and scholarship, as well as enhance mutual understanding, community-cultural knowledge, and growth competency over a 1- to 5-year period.
More than half of all native Hawaiians currently live outside Hawaii, and the migration rate of native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders to Utah has increased by 400 percent over the past 3 decades. Unfortunately, Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander mainstream societal integration in Utah has been a difficult story at best, with incidences of family disintegration, unemployment, and poverty occurring at rates for 40-60 percent higher than average, and lower student educational performance in general. The reasons are complex, but studies strongly indicate that many native Hawaiian individuals’ inability to maintain positive “connectedness” to cultural traditions, values, and language after relocation is a major contributing factor leading to significant problems of self-identity, self-confidence, and mainstream integration.
“HULA will malama ohana on the mainland and aid native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders in reconnecting culturally while helping them to perpetuate their culture in their new home,” said Alfred Grace, COO of PCC. “We are proud to be able to help OHA fulfill its vision statement, Hooulu Lahui Aloha – To Raise a Beloved Nation, for native Hawaiians living outside of Hawaii.”
The PCC, BYU-Hawaii, and Utah Valley University (UVU) will utilize their combined resources to increase the percentage of native Hawaiians participating in cultural activities, as well as promote a sense of value for native Hawaiian history and culture among individuals and families on the mainland. HULA’s goal is to help 1,500 native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders by the year 2012.
Founded in 1963 as a nonprofit organization, the Polynesian Cultural Center has entertained more than 34 million visitors, while preserving and portraying the culture, arts, and crafts of Polynesia to the rest of the world. In addition, the PCC has provided financial assistance to 17,000 young people from over 70 different countries while they attend Brigham Young University-Hawaii. As a nonprofit organization, 100 percent of PCC’s revenue is used for daily operations and to support education.