The Aloha Spirit of the Humans of Oahu

My STEP project is titled “Human of Oahu”. I complete this project with my friend, Emily. We traveled to Honolulu, Hawaii and interview people around the island about their lives and just a piece of advice. This project was inspired by Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton. We traveled around the island of Oahu, from Kailua to Waianae, we got to meet so many different people from a diverse background. After the interview portion, we took a picture of each of the interviewee. We then create a website with their picture and stories/quotes available online. The purpose of the project is to have people learn more about the Hawaiian cultures, and how easy it is to connect with other people.

Going into this project, I have very limited knowledge about Hawaiian culture. I always knew Hawaii has beautiful beaches and nice hiking trails. However, I have no prior knowledge about the culture and its history. However, the ability to talk to so many different people around the island open up my eyes. I have an opportunity to transform myself into a better person by learning from other people. All of the different stories that others shared really get me to think more about my life. It is quite scary the impact stories could make on a person. Both Emily and I did not expect to be moved by the stories of the people we encounter. I’ve always been a big fan of this Youtube channel called “Yes Theory”. The purpose of their videos is to “Seek Discomfortable”. They do stuff that would put them out of their comfort zone and start becoming comfortable with it. This project put me into a position that is outside of my comfort zone and help me become more proactive. We approached strangers that we’ve never met before, made them open up and showed their vulnerability to us was not an easy task. Before the project, I never looked at myself as someone that is comfortable something that I’m not comfortable doing. I’ve learned that being discomfort is fine and normal. However, learning to step out and be more proactive and face what I’m afraid of will help me grow and develop.

Being able to seek discomfort and be fine with it is something that both Emily and I both successfully achieved through this project. Other than that, I also learned about Hawaii. People are not usually aware that Hawaii and their cultures are beyond just mountain and beaches. We explore places such as Iolani Palace, Pearl Harbor, and Polynesian cultural center really gave us a good scope into the history of Hawaii. These experiences led me to understand the historical side of Hawaii. I believe I’d never have an opportunity to learn this much about the state until I stepped outside of the continental US and traveled to the Aloha State.

Uncle Ben is a great example of how his story transformed us. He talked about how Hawaii has changed throughout his life. He opened up about the impact of tourism has on the people from Hawaii. Uncle Ben opened up our knowledge about agenda setting theory within the media. The news outlet did not disclose the information of what is going on within Hawaii. He talked about the Hawaiian Home policy that he suffered from the government. He gave us the accessibility to the information that we could not access on a daily basis. This interaction was extremely memorable as we talked for almost 2 hours from his childhood to what Hawaii turned out to be now, and it ended with Uncle Ben invited us to come to his ranch whenever we visit Hawaii. This interaction taught us how meaningful every human interaction is. People place a strong emphasis on developing a relationship but forget that the development would only move forward if the vulnerability increases. Uncle Ben showed his vulnerability throughout the conversation that it inspired me learning more about him.

Another activity that I helped me being more transformation is snorkeling. Snorkeling is a part of Hawaii’s culture. Hawaiian people take pride in their water. Hawaii is the first state of the United States banned non-coral-reefs friendly sunscreen. They all believed in preserving and protecting the water as it is apart of who they are. I was able to be in the water and dived into the “unknown” was what they usually refer to as the “Aloha Spirit”. Aloha Spirit– a relaxed, laid back attitude that Hawaiian people usually refer to themselves. I talked to the captain of the boat we were on for snorkeling, and he talked about how easy it is to immerse themselves into the water as if they belong there. The snorkeling experience helped me looked at how powerless and small I am in the vast ocean. However, Hawaiian people believe that they feel empower and come as one with the ocean whenever they get themselves into the water.

This experience helped me learn more about myself. I understand that it is ok to be uncomfortable whenever I start doing something. I learned to be acceptable about it and be comfortable. This will help me socially and professionally. Going into the business world, networking is one of the most important key to build connections. However, networking involves a lot of coming up to strangers and start talking. Of course no one would want to come up to a table that is full of strangers and start talking, but without doing so it is very challenging to expand the connection. This project is somewhat a low-risk warm up for me for the business world. Coming up to strangers and starting a conversation seem to be a very natural thing now as I have become comfortable to seek discomfort!

This project taught me about stepping out of the filter bubble. The information that I know do now just surround around me. The information that I actually don’t know will be outside of my inner circle. We created the filter bubble without realizing about it. Before this trip, I’ve never heard about or come across the Hawaiian Home policy. However, Uncle Ben helped me learned more about the government in Hawaii and the problem people are facing. I would not be able to learn about this if I don’t step out and listen to what other people have to say. This made me think about what I could have missed out on and what I could learn from other people outside my group of friends!




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