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Ethnic Diversity

Ethnic Diversity

Hawaii is more than a surf and sand paradise, as it is rich in U.S. history, provides excellent opportunities to study the environment, and is the bridge that connects the U.S. with our Asia Pacific partners. You may not be used to being surrounded by a majority of ethnic Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, Hawaiian, Portuguese, Korean and other people (and mixes thereof). During your tour, you’ll meet a lot of local people who will smile and help you feel comfortable here.

Here are some hints to get acclimated fast and relatively painlessly:

  • Taking the first step to show your aloha spirit pays off. If you have an overly abundant avocado or papaya tree in your yard, take a bag over to your neighbor.
  • If you host a party, invite your neighbors and make it potluck. Most people love to share their favorite dishes.
  • Take your shoes or slippers off before entering a house.
  • Don’t get upset if you said 5 p.m. and they arrive at 5:45 p.m. “Hawaiian time” is more relaxed.
  • Drivers in Hawaii don’t honk their horn; it’s considered rude. And they don’t cut drivers off. Allow others to merge and you’ll usually get a smile and wave.
  • However, BE AWARE: some drivers frequently run through red traffic lights.
  • Don’t refer to the mainland as “the states” or “the U.S.” Hawaii has been the 50th state since 1959, and local people get offended if you imply this isn’t part of the USA.
  • You may not be able to differentiate between a Samoan, Tongan or a Hawaiian when you first arrive. Visiting the Polynesian Cultural Center is a great way to get acquainted with Pacific Island cultures.
  • Try the local food, especially if you’re a guest at someone’s home. Some of the local favorites include poi (mashed taro root), laulau (pork wrapped in layers of taro leaves) and kalua pig (similar to Southern American pulled pork).
  • Every Friday in Hawaii, many residents wear Hawaiian shirts, muumuus or other Hawaiian-style clothing to work but usually with Hawaiian prints that are more subtle and sophisticated than the more casual Hawaii print clothing.
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