Saturday, August 1, 2009

Term in Asia 2009 - Week 5

Term in Asia 2009
Ian Butters, Tajhia Cartwright, Bart De Jong, Annika Duveneck,
Natasha Elder, Brett Granger, Tyler Krueger, Edgar Macias

Wow, we’ve come to the end of our journey. What a fantastic trip this has been! We finished up our study abroad tour with a trip to Hawaii, where we visited Pearl Harbor, spent some time at the Polynesian Cultural Center, and enjoyed the island’s beautiful beaches.

After another long period of traveling, we left Asia for Honolulu, Hawaii. With the changing time zones, we were able to gain a day! Once we arrived on the island, and received our traditional welcome leis, we took a shuttle bus to our hotel in Waikiki, dropped off our luggage, and headed straight to Cheeseburger in Paradise for some much welcomed American food. Following our lunch, we had the afternoon off to explore Waikiki.

For our second day in Hawaii, we visited Pearl Harbor. Upon our arrival, we had about thirty minutes to look around the center and take some pictures before heading into the centers theater for a twenty minute film about Pearl Harbor. This film really enhanced our visit. It provided excellent background information, and even featured footage obtained from the Japanese of the actual bombings. On top of actually visiting the memorial and standing above the sunken battleship U.S.S. Arizona, this film really helped bring history to life. Following the video, we took a short boat ride to the memorial where we saw the names of those lost during the attack, as well as the remains of the famous Arizona. Once we were picked back up by the boat, we had about thirty minutes until our shuttle bus was scheduled to pick us up. To pass the time, some students looked through the Pearl Harbor museum, while others visited the submarine museum just down the road. Soon afterwards, our bus picked us up and gave us a tour of the city, showing us the former royal palace, Trippler hospital, the prestigious Kamehameha School (a school where applicants must be at least 50% Hawaiian), as well as the home where President Barrack Obama was raised.

(Tajhia Cartwright, Natasha Elder, and Annika Duveneck at Pearl Harbor)

Next on our Hawaii “to-do list” was to visit the Polynesian Cultural Center. This was so neat! After a beautiful drive through the mountains, we arrived at the center and were assigned to our tour guide, Blanche, who was a native Samoan. Blanche, like most of the workers at the center, is a student at Brigham Young University – Hawaii, and part of her tuition is provided by the center. The main part of our tour included visits to replicas of various Polynesian villages, including Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, Tahiti, Hawaii, Aotearoa (also known as New Zealand), and Marquesas. We saw demonstrations on how to make fire and husk and milk coconuts, listened to traditional Aotearoan music and watched their dancing, learned how to hula dance, played Fijian music, and watched and listened to a drum performance. The drum show turned into comedy hour when three people from the audience were selected to try their hand at it. We had quite some characters up there! Midway through our tour, we stopped by the river and watched the canoe parade, where each country was represented by dancers on a moving boat. We were able to view their traditional dances, listen to native music, and see their beautiful costumes.

(Canoe Parade at the Polynesian Cultural Center)

After our tour ended, it was time for dinner. We ate at the delicious Ambassador Restaurant, where we had our choice of prime rib, crab, chicken, different salad mixings and fruit, soups, potatoes, rice, and some local dishes. One of them was the taro bread, a purple roll that is very popular in the area, as well as macadamia nut pie, which was absolutely delicious! Following our meal, we headed straight to the IMAX Theater where we watched a documentary about coral reefs. It was so cool! The colors and images we were shown were outstanding. We ended our fantastic day with a wonderful performance titled “Ha – Breath of Life.” This show allowed us a glimpse into various cultural moments in a Polynesian’s life, including the birth of a new baby, their maturation into adulthood, becoming a warrior, falling in love, getting married, and in turn, having a child. The music, dancing, and costumes were fabulous. One of the best parts of the performance was the fire show; these guys were amazing! What at treat!

(Bart de Jong and Annika Duveneck at Diamond Head State Monument)

Though we were only scheduled for one free day in Hawaii, Prof. Harris was able to allow us to keep our rooms for an extra day before our evening flight back to the mainland. Lucky us! For those two days, we continued to explore the island by swimming and snorkeling at North Shore, visiting the University of Hawaii, hiking the Diamond Head crater, and spending time at Waikiki. Before we left the island, we were strongly encouraged to check out Duke’s Canoe Club, a restaurant right on the beach where they play live music. So, for our last night of the trip, Prof. Harris and a few students ate a delicious sunset dinner at Duke’s.
(Dinner at Duke's)

It’s so hard to believe our amazing trip has come to an end. I know I can speak for the rest of the students when I thank all of our friends, families, professors, Lisa Allen, Veched, and Prof. Harris for making this outstanding study tour possible. It was truly an unforgettable trip, and I know the memories we all have from it will last a lifetime.

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