Growing up in Hawaii was rough. (Okay, so it wasn’t rough at all, just go with me for a minute.) Sure,we have some of the best beaches in the world but can you really enjoy them while having to work, go to school, and clean your bathroom? (Yes, you still can.) In Hawaii there is good food everywhere—and lots of it—but how are you expected to eat it and at the same time be ready to jump into a bathing suit on a seconds notice? (This is a legitimate problem, at least for me.) Finally, the hugging. One gets used to a lot of hugging and cheek kissing in Hawaii. This was only a issue for me once I left Hawaii to go to college. Turns out not all my new friends were comfortable with a hug and kiss hello and goodbye. (Obviously more their problem than mine.)
A few weeks ago I had a great opportunity to visit Hawaii. I was there to write an article on the students of BYU-Hawaii for LDS Living (look for it in the January/February 2011 issue). Although my time was short, I still managed to sneak in a few visits to friends and family members, drink my favorite juice on the planet (Pass-O-Guava), and check out some of my favorite haunts. I even drove by my old house and ended up looking like a creepy stalker when the current owner walked out and saw me staring at my his house while parked in the middle of the street.
When I am away from the islands I forget what it’s like. How green everything is. How kind the people are. How much better shave ice tastes there. (Why don’t people on the mainland learn how to make melt in your mouth shave ice?) I have lived in Utah, Virginia, and Colorado for significant times in my adult life and loved each one. Hawaii, however, is home.
The amazing students I interviewed at BYU-Hawaii each come from varied parts of the world. They are all very different but each share at least one goal in common—to someday return home. I'm not just talking about going home for the holidays. These students want to take all they have learned, return to their homeland, and be a force for change in their corner of the world. Like I said, these are some amazing students.
While I am not returning to live in Hawaii anytime soon, talking with the students reminded me how vital home is. How important it is to remember the people that raised you and to honor where you are from even if the temperature year-round averages 80 degrees farinheit. (I mean really, who likes that?)