Rant & Rave

Tuesday, December 9, 1997

Even in Iowa, she’s
still a Hawaii gal

By Raenelle Kwock

AS I sit in my uncarpeted and very clean dorm room in Iowa, thoughts of Hawaii flow through my mind. Every college freshman thinks about home every now and then. There is no denying this fact. However, I do not classify this as being homesick. Instead I think it's a matter of remembering one's roots.

I will never forget where I came from. Therefore, Hawaii is always within me and I can prove I'm still a Hawaii gal.

For instance, snow is a continual source of thrills. Just recently, I walked downstairs to wash clothes and saw something falling from the sky. When I opened my eyes wider, I realized it was snow! I couldn't believe it. I was experiencing my first snowfall!

I snapped oodles of pictures and wanted to gaze out the window all day long. But instead of staying inside, I ran to play outside. I got into my first snowball fight and made my first snowman. Now that is a Hawaii gal for you.

When I receive care packages filled with li hing gummy bears, oh, they taste so delicious! Greasy burgers, salads and french fries can't calm my growling stomach nearly as well. I wanted more of this, but nearby stores only sell regular gummy bears, and it's amazing they have them at all.

Shoyu is nowhere to be found, but I'd choose this black sauce over salt and pepper on my meals any day. Food tastes so much better with shoyu. There is steak sauce, but it doesn't come close to satisfying my craving.

What is this, potato chips? Why bother with potatoes? Iowa stores supply the familiar Lays brand and others, but where are the taro chips?

Soda, no, I want my fruit punch! The cafeteria shelves pointlessly stock Gatorade and Snapple because fruit punch will always be my "thirst quencher."

Oh yes, my slippers! I did not leave home without them. Of course I wear Surfah brand. I'm not ashamed of my slipper tan either. That upside-down "V" really makes me cool. Most people on campus just stare without saying a word. When I bring it up, they only laugh. This distinguishes me as the Hawaii gal.

Come to think of it, I haven't seen much sun in Iowa.

MY clothes gotta be from HIC. I don't really mind all the stares I get. I'm proud of where I come from and laugh when I see all the generic aloha shirts worn on campus. Those people wearing them think they look so cool.

Meanwhile, words such as "pop" and "flip flops," substitutes for "soda" and "slippers," are heard throughout campus. Sometimes I catch myself saying "puka" or "hele on" and people look at me strangely. Then, I always have to give a proper English translation.

Pidgin is in my system, though, and can never be erased completely. To me, it's so much easier to get ideas across in pidgin. But, then again, that's only in Hawaii. No one on the mainland would understand.

Finally, whenever I introduce myself, people always ask me where I am from. They always have a lot of questions about Hawaii. They think it's cool to learn more about their ideal vacation destination.

(So much for the notion that Hawaii is no longer the dream vacation spot it once was.)

I always encourage others to visit. I promise to show them where to go and offer a place to stay, if needed. Their eyes light up!

My home will always hold a special place in my heart and it's natural to want to share my love of my home with others. I am still the Hawaii gal.

Raenelle Kwock is a 1997 Kamehameha Schools graduate
and a first-year student at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.
She'll be coming home for Christmas, for sure.

Rant & Rave is a Tuesday Star-Bulletin feature
allowing those 12 to 22 to serve up fresh perspectives.
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