It’s everywhere. From the Pacific University website, to the numerous posters hanging from nearly every wall on campus; The 51st annual Pacific University Lu’au is almost here, and it’s arriving quickly.
Much like every year, the lu’au will share a bit of our Hawaiian and Polynesian culture with our audience in a way that is entertaining but informative at the same time. From the traditional kahiko dances to the hip-hop twists on Polynesian favorites (yes, the glowing poi balls are back), we have been working on a variety of dances with a spread of about 15 instructors.
Unlike those constants, though, the theme, our actual focus for the show itself, changes from year to year. This year our theme, as I’m sure you’ve already seen, is “Nana I Ke Kumu: Look to the Source.“ Chosen by members of the lu’au board, it was utilized as a way of making sure we remember our past as we move forward into the future for both NHOH and our annual lu’au.
Since we are coming off the largest anniversary of our lu’au in history (the 50th), it is the perfect time to look back on all that our alumni have accomplished in order to preserve their dreams as we push our club forward into the next fifty years.
“The source” is not specified so it can be taken to mean a myriad of possible “sources;” it can be anyone from whom we draw strength or glean knowledge: our coaches, our parents, our grandparents, our teachers. We look to these sources of wisdom to find direction in our own lives.
This Saturday the Hawaiian club will be making their yearly trek down to the Jennings-McCall Center for Retired Living. Each year, the week before Lu’au, we perform our entire show for one of our “sources” of strength: the elderly that call Jennings home. We use this as preparation, as practice for the real deal, and it is so crucial to our performance that this week is actually known colloquially as “Jennings Week,” due to the sheer amount of rehearsing we put into it.
To add to its importance, one of the founders of our Hawaii club, Dr. Fred Scheller, spent time at the retirement home, which was actually the reason we started performing there in the first place. From our performance we gain confidence, knowing that we can indeed pull off our dances, as well as the satisfaction that comes with making people happy. The folks at Jennings are one of our most important sources of strength. They help us remember where we came form, that the past paved the way for our present, and that we must do the same for those who will come after us.
Nana i ke kumu. Translated literally it means “look to the source.” But it means so much more than can be explained in four words. We all have our own sources of confidence; Lao Tzu said, “being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” We look to our sources for these things and give back with our culminating performance at lu’au. It is the blend of tradition with progress, the use of past knowledge in the present that makes us the unique people we are. In all aspects of life, we should nana i ke kumu.