There are several signature events at USF, but perhaps one of the biggest standout events is the Lu’au that Hui’O Hawaii puts on every year. The 37th annual Lu’au consisted of great food, incredible performances, and an atmosphere focused on Hawaiian culture. This year’s lu’au drew a crowd of over 450 people including students, faculty, and students’ family members. One community member in attendance was University President Rev. Stephen Privett, S.J. who commented on how events like Lu’au add to the culturally diverse aspect of USF, “Every year I try to get to the Lu’au because we are able to see the richness of the cultures that are represented here at the University, he said. Different cultures have different ways of expressing themselves through movement and dance, and different ways of dressing. The more we can come to appreciate and understand these differences the better we are able to appreciate the richness of the whole human experience.”
The event has brought USF families together from around the Bay Area for many years. Some members of the Hui’O Hawaii organization had their family members in attendance to support them. Jocelyn Dumlao, USF alumna and 2007-2008 president of Hui’O Hawaii, has participated in lu’au since her tenure at USF. Dumlao said “It is really a family event, the whole club comes together. Especially for the kids from Hawaii this is a taste from home. It really makes you feel the aloha spirit and what Hawaii is all about.”
The food at Lu’au consisted of sticky white rice, roasted pork, cooked cabbage, Mochiko chicken, Lomi salmon, poke and pound cake. Sophomore Marco Santiago said the food was “delicious and better than last year.” While Santiago and others enjoyed the Hawaiian cuisine, the student performers prepared to go on stage and showcase their talent. The crowd was actively engaged in the dance performances and students cheered on their colleagues that performed on stage. A Hawaiian band that featured energetic rhythmic beats accompanied the dance performances.
Current Hui’O Hawaii President and Lu’au performer Kristen Ota said “There were about 45 dancers this year for Lu’au and we have been practicing for Lu’au for a little over a month.” The performers spent many late nights practicing to perfect their routines; the performances can last up to 20 minutes. Marlo Caramat was the kumu hula of the Te Mau Tamari’I, which is the Tiare dance group that performed. A kumu hula is the person who is responsible for teaching the routines to the student performers. Caramat said, “We did songs that were traditional and honoring some of the royalty families of Hawaii and did some songs that honored different gods of Hawaii. I try to keep it as traditional as possible because it was passed down to them in the traditional manner. What you saw here tonight was passed down to me from generation to generation.” On the final result of her hard work, Ota said, “It felt really rewarding and fun to be performing after all those weeks of practicing.”