Pacific Islanders Club Lu’au Promotes Traditions of Each Island

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Every year in May, the Pacific Islanders Clubs holds their main annual event, the Lu’au for all Portland State students and community members to enjoy. It is a festive night that honors the eight Pacific Islands and includes music, food, merchandise, a photo booth, and even a ceremonial Kava Circle. We spoke with Xylia Lydgate, PSU student and coordinator of the Lu’au, to get caught up on the happenings of the event.

This year was my first year as a coordinator for the position and I think it went really well. We got lots of great feedback from the community and over 900 people were in attendance. Lu’au means gathering or celebration and is the biggest event the Pacific Islanders club hosts throughout the year. It is our big chance to have fun and share our culture with the community.

This event is important because most people do not know the different cultures of the eight islands and just associate the stereotypes of grass skirts and hula dances with the pacific islands without knowing much more. With this event, we are trying to break those stereotypes and promote the different aspects of each individual island through dances, food, or traditions. My favorite part of event is the different traditional dances. We start rehearsing in January and work really hard to tell the audience the story and meaning behind the different performances so that can engage in learning in a fun way.

On a more personal level, it helps to have events and cultural groups on campus such as the Pacific Islander club that help people from all over the world who come to Portland State feel more at home. Transitioning to a new place and being so far away from home and family can be difficult.  Sharing a piece of my cultural traditions with others makes me feel welcome and visible on campus.

I chose to come to PSU blind-date-style. I was so intrigued by the city and wanted a college experience in an urban setting so I just went for it, applied, was accepted, and came here on a whim. It turned out to be a perfect match. My advice to anyone going through the process of choosing the right school is to visit with the Admissions Office to see what PSU has to offer, and find out if PSU aligns with what you want in a college, both academically and socially. Being involved in student activities helps smooth the transition process and helped me with first impressions that has led to me having the time of my life.