By: Trilby Kite
The trip to Hawaii was one of the best experiences I have had in my entire life. I went into this trip with no expectations of how it might go. I just trusted that I was going to be open-minded and willing to try and learn new things, and that is exactly what happened. This was the furthest from home I had ever traveled, let alone being with a group of people that I had just met before the plane ride. I would have never been able to predict how great all of us would get along and that I would be coming back to New Jersey with a new group of close friends. We all shared the same excitement and desire to learn more about the island and its culture, which made every adventure even more enjoyable. Our tour guide took us to see all types of overlooks, beaches, and monuments that were beyond the scope of the itinerary, and each one had me at a loss for words because of how beautiful and marvelous they all were. The island of Oahu had many treasures within it that made the trip an unbelievable experience.
In addition to the physical aspects of the island, there were many things I learned about Hawaiian culture and the presence of Japanese culture. One thing about the Hawaiian people that stuck with me the most was the emphasis on the “Aloha spirit.” This was explained to us as simply showing kindness and accepting people as they come and loving every opportunity you get to experience something or someone new. From convenience stores to the temples, every place we went was a pleasant experience because the people in Hawaii are all so welcoming and willing to show you the true meaning of “Aloha.” One of the most meaningful parts of the trip for me was visiting Pearl Harbor and learning about the impact of World War II on the Japanese population in Hawaii. Being on the U.S.S. Arizona and seeing the list of names who died fighting on that ship during the attack was a serene and humbling moment for me. I felt like it brought history to life because I was physically experiencing a place that we usually only learn about in textbooks. I found it interesting that during the time when Japanese citizens were being placed into internment camps, those who practiced Buddhism were particularly targeted. It was disheartening to hear that not only were these people being imprisoned and interrogated due to their race, but also because of their religious beliefs. I also felt like being at the Shinto shrines and going through the rituals gave me a newfound respect for a new religion, which is something I plan to remember going into my future. Ultimately, there are countless stories I could tell about the Hawaii trip and the things I learned throughout it.
By: Brittany Webster
It’s difficult to find the correct words to describe my experience in Hawaii, but humbling, blessed and transformative are terms that I keep going back to. I went on this trip with and completely open mind and a friendly face in hopes to make at least one friend. Little did I know that I would home with a new ohana! The genuine connections that were made on this trip are irreplaceable. I could not have imagined a better group of individuals to have traveled with.
Oahu, itself, was magical. I can’t pinpoint my favorite part about adventuring around this island because everything we did spoke to me in different ways. From learning about the different shrines and temples to paddle boarding in the waters of Waikiki beach and everything in between- different parts of my soul were ignited.
By: Maegan Moser
Hawaii was an incredible experience. We really learned a lot about the history of all the islands and the history of Japanese culture on Oahu. Everything was so eye-opening and so new to us that we didn’t leave empty-handed without some type of knowledge. The food was by far one of the most incredible things as well as the amazing beaches. Hospitality was impeccable everyone was so nice and so kind throughout the entire trip.
I think by far my most favorite part of the trip was doing the Japanese tea ceremony and learning that it’s not for entertainment and that it’s part of their culture and discovering who you are. Every temple and shrine we went to, I felt at peace inside of myself and I felt so calm. I was also astounded by all the amazing wildlife that was on the island especially the day we saw a sea turtle taking a nap on the beach and slowly making its way back into the water. I felt so close yet so far from reality that it was probably one of the most incredible experiences I’ve ever had and I’m also incredibly humble that I made so many new friends in our group.