Hawaiian Civic Club-a resource for Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander youth
Sophia Sakaino, a freshman at Southridge High School in Beaverton, is proud of her leadership role on the school’s youth council of the Hawaiian Civic Club (HCC), and she speaks with passion and enthusiasm about the positive impact of the club. Across Oregon and southwest Washington, Ka ʻAha Lāhui O ʻOlekona Hawaiian Civic Clubs is one of over 60 chapters of the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs and Na Lei Makalapua (Continent Council of the AOHCC). They provide BIPOC students (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) an opportunity to meet and share their experiences and establish solidarity among communities of color.
Sophia is committed to the HCC because it “creates more youth leadership opportunities” and “shows that youth have a voice.” The organization gives middle and high school students a chance to socialize and exchange views and experiences with each other. The youth council is responsible for organizing events that edify, entertain, and promote dialogue on a variety of topics of concern to BIPOC youth. Some of the most meaningful programming this school year has been framed around social issues such as Black Lives Matter, March for Our Lives, vaccinations, and environmental protection. Unity expos focusing on cultural diversity have drawn participation from universities, colleges, and small businesses.
The Hawaiian Civic Club honors the traditions of Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (NHPI) while having a lot of fun. Sophia is especially enthused about the hula classes and Talk Story, which is a Hawaiian expression that means “to chat informally.” Talk Story is an oral tradition of meandering personal stories mixed with mythology, genealogy, bedtime stories, songs, and whispers that have been passed through generations and that play an essential role in family and community life in NHPI cultures.
Sophia is pleased with the efforts of the youth council, and she and her peers are working to expand the reach of the club by establishing civic clubs in other area schools. One challenge for Southridge High’s Hawaiian Civic Club is to increase participation. Sophia says “To reach more youth we want to be more streamlined.” She thinks that the program can grow with more community involvement. When asked what her goals are for the Hawaiian Civic Club, Sophia responded, “To spread Maʻi magic.”
Leialoha Kaʻula, the executive director of KALOHCC, is proud of the accomplishments and enthusiasm of the youth council. She identifies that the major short-term and long-term goals for the organization are to establish and sustain a community center for the state of Oregon that serves the Native Hawaiian & Pacific Islander communities. In 2022 KALO opened what will be the stepping stone to their long-term vision, Aloha Resource and Community Center. “Establishing the center and what programs, services, resources, etc. it will provide will be guided by our community members, especially our youth. The community center looks to support the growing community and KALO values the manaʻo (voices) of our youth for they are the future leaders and the very ones who will carry on our legacy. The legacy of our founder, Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaʻole.”