By Kevin Deneen, Kapiʻo Staff Writer
On one table, a gathering of international students carefully studied pairings of familiar foods — beni imo and taro, soba and saimin, sata andagi and malasadas — and tried to guess which were Okinawan in origin.
Nearby, Japanese 209 students educated passers-by on the fundamental principles of Japanese tea, Wa Kei Sei Jaku (harmony, respect, purity and tranquility), and their influence on Japanese language and culture.
At yet another table, liberal arts student Tetsu Quinn smiled broadly as he explained the legacy of silk artist Akihiko Izukura and the surviving Izukura philosophy of zero waste that applies to the use of raw silk to create fine fabrics and all-natural materials with which to hand-dye garments with subtle colors.
The exhibitions were just a small part of Kapiʻolani Community College’s 15th Annual International Education Week, which was celebrated at several locations on the Diamond Head campus from Nov. 17 to 20.
“Celebrating International Education Week is particularly important because we have such a diversity of Asian and Pacific cultures in Hawaii, and they are rich and full of deep meaning, which can take a lifetime of exploration to learn,” said event founder Carl Hefner, a professor of anthropology and Asian studies. Therefore, one step at a time, we learn more about our brothers and sisters of the region, and hopefully this leads to understanding, cooperation and peace for all.”
The spirit of cultural exchange and mutual understanding was evident throughout the week as students, faculty and staff took advantage of a diverse array of cultural presentations and games.
Among the dozens of attractions presented during the week were performances by the KCC Synthesizer Ensemble, Malinanung Uni Kulintang Ensemble, and Pamana Rondalya Ensemble; an exhibition of Sevillanas folk dance and music; a poster session on inspirational people from different countries; a cooking demonstration; and lectures on Afghan history and culture and the influence of culture on personality.
At Lama Library, visitors were invited to participate in a broad selection of board games from around the world, including Mahjong, one of the oldest board games still enjoyed today.
Developed over 2,500 years ago, Mahjong (“chattering sparrow” in English) was used as a teaching tool throughout China. The game is played with 144 tiles based on Chinese characters and symbols and requires a delicate balance of strategy, calculation and luck to win. Other games included crokinole, konane, loteria, mille bornes, senet, tiddlywinks and yut nori.
At the Cranes for Peace exhibition, visitors learned how origami cranes became a symbol of international peace through the efforts of a young girl named Sadako Sasaki.
Sasaki was just 2 years old when the United States dropped an atom bomb on Hiroshima, Japan in 1945. Sasaki survived the bombing but eventually developed leukemia — commonly referred to as “the atom bomb disease” — a decade later. While in the hospital, Sasaki folded a thousand paper cranes in the hope that, as Japanese legend held, she might be granted a single wish. Sasaki died a year after she was diagnosed, but not before sharing her wish for world peace.
“We are enhanced by the wisdom of the elders that is passed down from generation to generation through expressive culture, and can feel their aloha through learning, and can engage ourselves in the process so that we may keep it alive,” Hefner said.