Thursday, March 10, 2011

Challenging Her Comfort Zone

Leilani H. Powers ‘13

I come from Kailua-Kona, Hawai’i.  I have a native Japanese mother and an American father (from California).

As I grew up, I was fortunate to have parents who found it essential to be able to communicate with my Japanese family.  They chose to raise me learning both English and Japanese since birth.  I have been lucky to be able to visit my Japanese family steadily throughout my life and to be immersed in the language and culture of both Japan and Hawai’i. 

However, as I grew up, I never had much of a chance to visit my father’s side of the family on the mainland very often.  So when I first came to Pacific University I had the natural shock, which many Hawaiians do, of the cultural differences between Hawai’i and mainland United States. 

Although Hawai’i is part of the United States, I was able to see a very big difference in the lifestyles of those who live here and those back home.  This may be true for everybody when they go off to college, but because of the remnants of the native Hawaiian culture, Hawai’i has a culture of its own.  Although it’s not the strongest example, Pacific’s lu’au does give some idea of certain cultural aspects of what I am used to at home.

However, I can’t say I was completely shocked by the difference in lifestyles.  My father’s parents, who are originally from New York, lived down the road from me and would occasionally watch my siblings and me while my parents were at work.  They always stressed the importance of education and the power of knowledge. They walked the walk just was well as they talked the talk.

They would tell us stories of the places they had been and the people they had met, and they emphasized the importance of leaving home to truly understand and learn more about the world we live in, stories that made me want to go explore, learn, and experience for myself. 

So here I am, thousands of miles from home, a Hawaiian, Japanese, and an American who is learning about the world through exploration, education, and experience.  I am an International Business and Japanese double major and since being here I have taken advantage of being in the mainland and traveling in and around Oregon.

Have you stepped out of your comfort zone lately?

Powers ‘13 holds an internship as marketing assistant in the Office of Alumni Relations. She chronicles her adventures on her personal website.

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