The kōlea bird, which is how the Pacific golden plover is known in Hawaii, has a spotted gold and black crown and a dark face with a white border. It migrates between the Pacific islands and North America each year, some traveling for thousands of miles and wintering on the Big Island.
LMU’s Hawaiian students, you could say, undertake their own migration journeys from home to Los Angeles on the mainland, congregating for events, hosted by Nā Kōlea, LMU’s Hawaii club, that relieve homesickness and recreate the aloha spirit.
Al Tipon ’81, former advisor to the club, has been involved with Nā Kōlea since the fall of his freshman year. He says the club is a “wonderful tool for Hawaiian students to transition into college life on the mainland.”
As a senior, Kimmi Stacey ’18 considers Nā Kōlea a defining part of her time at LMU. Hawaii’s culture is strong and distinctive, and moving to the mainland can be very daunting for college-bound Hawaiians. But she says Nā Kōlea helps to ease that transition, whether through the annual lu’au — the 44th was held this past April — or the annual Thanksgiving dinner for students who can’t fly home for the holiday.
“Finding people who share the same love for spam musubi or can sing along to local jams definitely helped me find a home away from home,” Stacey says. “I have a strong group of friends that I can now call my ‘Ohana,’ [family]” says Stacey.
A seasonal trip to Hawaii may not be in your budget, or perhaps your annual travel pattern. But you can get a taste of the aloha spirit here on campus at the lu’au or whenever the group meets.