Archive for ‘Uncategorized’

February 25, 2012

From island to mainland (Part 2)

This semester, I have been off the University of Hawai‘iat Mānoa campus fulfilling an internship at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. I was matched up with the Jazz Appreciation Month initiatives in the National Museum of American History.

While I didn’t know much about jazz music, my supervisor reassured me that I would be a useful set of new eyes (or rather, ears) in the JAM offices.

I had a few main tasks to complete during my time at JAM. I conducted interviews with a museum curator, teachers and librarians to gather information about jazz legends and JAM public events. I also scoured the Internet for little-known facts about jazz musicians, which I used to write articles based on the information I compiled. Eventually, what I wrote will be posted on the Smithsonian Jazz website (

Every Friday, I aided a high school intern in creating a short film using the film editing software Final Cut Pro – which proved to be a tedious program. Scenes had to be cut just right, down to the millisecond, to create fluidity in both the visual and audio components of the video.

Unfortunately, at times I encountered too many lulls in my internship duties and sometimes found myself trying to figure out ways to make the clock tick faster.

In light of this, what really captured my interest during my internship at the National Museum of American History was the fact that it was the National Museum of American History. Not the city museum, not the state museum, but the national museum.

A diverse, multicultural crowd gathered every day at the museum to fulfill their internships; I met college students and graduates from various places in and outside of the United States. The museum provided a welcoming social environment while acting as a magnet, attracting curious museum-goers and knowledge-hungry interns from across the globe.

The interns ate lunch together, and we got to learn what each person was up to. Everyone worked in a different part of the museum, so we all had different tasks. Some worked directly with museum artifacts or filed information about each artifact into an electronic database. Other departments got to speak with museum visitors directly and address concerns and questions.

I was really surprised to find out such a large array of jobs were available in the museum. Prior to this internship, I thought the only staff that could possibly be in a museum were curators, administrative assistants and, perhaps, assistant curators. But there was a place in the museum for anyone, regardless of their field.

Connecting with the interns was a wonderful way for me to expand my network. Most of the interns were originally from cities other than D.C., so I think everyone tried their best to make sure the museum was a place for interns to feel comfortable and fit right in.

The Office of Community and Alumni Relations at Hawai’i Hall 311 is currently accepting applications for 2012 internships in Washington, D.C. The deadline for applications is March 9, 2012. For more information and application packet materials, visit

February 22, 2012

From Island to Mainland: My time in Washington, D.C.

Since 1998, the College of Arts and Sciences has sent students to Washington D.C. to fulfill internships in various Smithsonian programs while receiving full-time college credit. Typically, three students are selected every year; the internships cover roundtrip airfare, room and board, and offer a monthly stipend.

This year, I was one of two UH Manoa students picked for Smithsonian internship positions. Within a matter of months, I found myself whisked away to the nation’s capitol.

Normally, my financial circumstances would be a huge obstacle if I wanted to travel outside of Hawai’i, but the financial support offered would make traveling to D.C. possible. As soon as I discovered the applications on the Office of Community and Alumni Relations website, I thought to myself, “I should give this a shot.”

The waiting game began as soon as I submitted all of my application materials. I tried to keep it out of my mind, but how I’d love to have the chance to travel to our nation’s capitol, a grand hub of news and media and haven for a Journalism student like myself.

Weeks after the deadline, I checked my e-mail inbox and lo and behold, an e-mail! Communication from the deciding powers said they were interested in interviewing me. I scheduled the interview and went in my best work dress: one that told them I meant serious business.

The waiting period began once more, but this time I could barely withhold my excitement. The possibility of an internship at the well-distinguished Smithsonian institution at the nation’s capitol seemed so real and so close.

After what seemed like an eternity later, but really was only about three days, I got a “Congratulations!” e-mail in my inbox. I had been one of three chosen for the internships. My jaw dropped as I thought to myself, “I’VE GOT TO SKYPE MY MOM!” who was on the Big Island; I was still living at the UH Manoa dorms at the time. Let me tell you: screaming and jumping ensued as soon as I called her via the internet phone and video program that is Skype.

Fast forward a few months later. After a long series of plane flights from Hawai’i to D.C., Jasmine Fernandez, the other chosen intern (the third chosen did not come for whatever reason), and myself, were picked up by President of the UH Alumni Association (UHAA) National Capitol Region Chapter President Byron Shorter, Vice President Ernie Takafuji and his wife Carol Takafuji at the airport. They were easy to spot, sporting various UH Warrior apparel and welcoming smiles.

My internship is actually supported by the UHAA National Capitol Region Chapter, one out of many chapters that unite UH Alumni around the globe. Periodic fundraisers are held by the chapter to replenish the scholarship fund for the students that come out to D.C. every fall. I had the opportunity to volunteer at a golf tournament and cookout in Virginia in September, an example of a fundraising activity for future students.

The Sarah and Francis Sogi Fellowship sponsors Jasmine, a sponsorship that requires that the student has at least one Ethnic Studies class under his or her belt. And, had the final student came, their internship would’ve been supported by the Hiram L. Fong Endowment in Arts and Sciences.

The trio drove us to our dorm rooms at Washington Trinity University campus, where we got the keys to rooms we’d call home for the next four months and dropped off our luggage.

The D.C. region chapter of the UHAA made us feel right at home and have welcomed us from the very beginning. They made sure we were stocked up on grocery necessities by driving us to CVS (known as Longs Drugs in Hawai‘i) the very first day we arrived. They supplied us with Cup O Noodles, a quick and delicious dinner staple of college students across the nation, and because both Jasmine and I are Hawai’i girls, we also got rice cookers and a supply of rice, spam and nori.

Even though Jasmine and I are thousands of miles away from the islands we call home, UHAA has made sure that we don’t get too lonely out here. We’ve eaten dinner at Karen Uemoto’s house (mmm, Middle Eastern couscous with dried cranberries and pine nuts. I’ve got to get that recipe!) Other days, we’ve been invited to lunch outings with Alumni members (if you ever find yourself at a Busboys and Poets, please get the steak salad. It won’t disappoint.) A newer member of the UHAA took us shopping at an outlet mall before she had to leave to fulfill education-related business in Switzerland and Peru. When my sister visited me all the way from the Big Island during the end of October, Byron drove us to Busch Gardens, an amusement park in Virginia, where we rode roller coasters until it was too dark and freezing cold outside to ride any more.

Prior to this, I had never visited the East Coast and don’t have any relatives on the East Coast, either. I missed my family sometimes, sure, but I never felt completely homesick. The UHAA felt like a support system, a family on the East Coast, that I could feel free to call if I ever needed anything.

As the date draws closer to my return flight home, I often reflect upon what a unique experience this trip has been. I’ve met so many wonderful people. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

Like this article? It’s part 1 of a 3 part series. Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3.

The Office of Community and Alumni Relations at Hawai’i Hall 311 is currently accepting applications for 2012 internships. The deadline for applications is March 9, 2012. For more information and application packet materials, visit

November 8, 2011

Examining D.C. fashion through an island girl’s perspective

Hawai‘i residents have it easy when it comes to picking out an autumn day’s outfit. Here, the worst wardrobe mistake we can make is forgetting an umbrella on a rainy day.

Hawai‘i fashion trends can be largely attributed to the weather and “toned-down” attitude in Hawai‘i, which brings about a certain comfort level, according to Jasmine Fernandez, a University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa student and intern at the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program.

In Washington, D.C., forgetting a jacket or coat is a source of misery when the temperature drops to the 40s, especially for an islander used to a tropical atmosphere. Citizens of D.C. have mastered the art of layering on chilly autumn days with coats, blazers, boots, scarves and the occasional beanie or pair of gloves. Here are a few comparisons of the campus fashions at UH Mānoa versus Trinity Washington University, a liberal arts women’s college in Washington, D.C.


On a warm and humid Washington DC day, Dana Carraway, student of Trinity Washington University, left, opts for bold accessories: a chunky pair of ankle boots, matching belt and striking pink earrings. Juanita Brown, right, sports a cute, comfy-casual college student look, similar to what a UH Manoa college student might wear.

Year-round summer inspires fashion for UH Mānoa students. Tanks and crop tops are abundant, a reflection of easily accessible surf-style shops such as Pac Sun, Billabong and Local Motion. Tanks and crop tops are easy to slip over a swimsuit when transitioning from a beach look to an everyday look – and bikini straps peeking out have a great fresh-from-the-beach look.

On the other hand, blazers and scarves are popular choices for college students in Washington, D.C. The atmosphere there is much more business oriented, and it is difficult to find surf and beachwear clothing stores. Many outfits there exude a sophisticated quality.

“It’s like the whole district is a business district. I’ve never seen so many people in suits, let alone people in suits running. You see people in suits every day, running, shoving into the metro [public transit system],” said Fernandez when asked about the main differences between Hawai‘i and D.C. fashion.

It’s definitely a change of pace, but Fernandez said she enjoys it: “When I see these girls, I think they look really good, really awesome. … And when I have dressed up, I feel pretty cute.”


Hawai‘i upholds its reputation for laid-back island style with shoes. Slippers are a Hawaiian wardrobe staple. They withstand harsh lava rock, and at the beach you can flip them right off and feel the warm, soft sand between your toes.Keiki, aunties, uncles and college students alike share a love for the convenient “rubbah slippah.”

High heels are much more popular in D.C. than in Hawai‘i. Perhaps the lack of uneven surfaces (read: no lava rock) makes them easier to walk in. Whether a classic pump or a Lady Gagaesque sky-high ankle boot, many Washingtonian college students wear high heels.


Sweatpants or denim shorts paired with a screen-printed T-shirt seems to be a necessity of college students regardless of region. In a pinch for time, they are quick, comfortable and cozy. Both local and Washingtonian college students have to make time in their schedules to study, go to classes and chill with friends. Sometimes, whatever is comfortable and in reach answers the age-old question “What should I wear today?”

September 27, 2011

Over 200,000 bibliophiles celebrate National Book Festival

The drizzly, gloomy weather came to a halt for enthusiastic bookworms out and about the National Mall for the 11th annual National Book Festival this weekend.

Over 200,000 attended this year, breaking last year’s record of 150,000, according to School Library Journal.

112 authors, including award-winning authors, met at the festival to interact with fans, sign books, and give book readings.

Books were available for purchase from the Barnes & Noble bookseller pavilion, but festival patrons were welcome to bring their own. Many attendees stood in hour-long lines to have books signed by authors, poets, and illustrators.

Books and authors were separated into different pavilions, including History & Biography, Fiction & Mystery, Poetry & Prose, Contemporary Life, and the new pavilions State Poets Laureate, The Cutting Edge, and Graphic Novels.

Gadget-geeks considering setting down paperbacks and getting into the eBook craze visited the Digital Bookmobile to try out different eBook devices, browse a public library online, and learn a little bit more about media available electronically.

This year’s theme, “Celebrate the Joys of Reading Aloud” was promoted by activities geared toward the younger crowd. Musical acts and children’s authors gathered at the “Family Storytelling Stage” pavilion, in addition to other tables set up with various kid-friendly activities.

Children were welcome to get creative and make their own bookmark or sit down and read. Excited young fans took photos with PBS show characters like Clifford the Big Red Dog and the cast of SUPERWHY! or hopped on a real-life version of The Magic Schoolbus.

Normally a one-day event, the record success of 150,000 attendants last year caused the festivities to expand to two days this year: Saturday, Sept. 24 and Sunday, Sept. 25.

Target, Wells Fargo, and the Washington post, among other sponsors, made this festival possible with the help of the Library of Congress.

National Book Festival Website:

Hawaii-based readers not in the Washington, DC area can attend  a local Book and Music Festival in the month of May. This year’s festival featured local authors Maya Soetoro-Ng and Roseanne Barr, among others, as well as the musical group Eddie Kamae and the Sons of Hawai’i and Slack Key Guitarist Cyril Pahinui.

Hawaii Book & Music Festival Website:

August 24, 2011

Pahoa digs series: Channel your inner scientist with molecule jewelry

Jewelry inspired by nature is not hard to come by. Flower and seashell rings, dolphin necklaces, and bird-in-flight earrings are common, but what about the composition of everything in nature?

The serotonin necklace proves to be Hanna's bestselling item. Photo Credit: Raven Hanna

Raven Hanna creates jewelry centered around exactly that: a jewelry line devoted entirely to molecules, called MadeWithMolecules.

Hanna is a self-proclaimed “scientist-turned-artist.” While many artists struggle to find their niche, the idea for molecule-focused jewelry came to Hanna while reading a book about neurotransmitters.

A picture in the book depicted the serotonin molecule. It stood out to Hanna as beautiful – both in an aesthetic and symbolic sense – and she wanted a necklace to highlight that molecule.

“We all could use a little bit more of just like, ‘I’m OK, I’m satisfied, I’m happy, everything is good,’ which is what serotonin brings,” said Hanna.

Hanna scoured the Internet in search of a serotonin-molecule necklace, but to no avail.

Having kept a sketch book for years, she decided to take it upon herself to create the serotonin-shaped necklace, which is now her best-selling jewelry piece.

She acquired her undergraduate education from the University of California, Santa Cruz, graduate education from Yale University, postdoctoral education from UC Berkeley, and another year of postdoctoral studies classes back at UCSC.

Hanna discovered during her postdoctoral studies that she was unhappy doing laboratory work. On a trip to Hawai‘i after her three-year post-doc, she looked out into the Kaua‘i ocean and thought, “Wait. I don’t want to be a scientist, I want to communicate science.”While she originally aspired to become a scientist, she loved the idea of being a science communicator more.

“[The experience on Kaua‘i] really changed the course of my professional life,” said Hanna.

The sterling silver caffeine necklace can be purchased for $90. Photo credit: Raven Hanna

Little did she know the serotonin necklace she created would unlock the opportunity to communicate science in a creative way.

Friends urged Hanna to sell her jewelry.

She first took the idea of opening a jewelry business seriously when a high school girl approached Hanna about the necklace in a Gap store.

“It suddenly occurred to me, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m giving someone a science lesson in a Gap store in a mall. This is science communication!’ It sort of struck me that this thing that I had made was [the] science communication that I was looking for, because I was looking for creative ways to communicate science,” said Hanna.

Hanna was making a living off of the MadeWithMolecules jewelry line in San Francisco when she came to a sudden realization.

“I can live anywhere with a post office and Internet connection. … And that got me thinking, where would I want to be?”

Hanna finally moved to the quiet town of Pāhoa on the Big Island last October in search of a place that enabled her to live off the grid, closer to the land and a more “green” lifestyle.

“I’ve made some crucial decisions while I was in the islands that have kind of changed my life, so I’ve always felt a connection [to Hawai‘i] that way.”

She still is involved with science writing, freelancing for Stanford University and UC Berkeley.

But, less than two years after founding the company in 2005, Hanna committed herself to working full-time onMadeWithMolecules.

“I am spending more than full-time hours doing it!” Hanna said laughingly.

Hanna takes custom jewelry orders as well. What’s the most unusual request she’s had? A chemist on the team of Viagra inventors ordered sildenafil citrate, the drug sold as Viagra.

Other molecules available for purchase are dopamine, caffeine, theobromine (chocolate), resveratrol (red wine) and estrogen, among many others.

Endorphins, the molecule that causes a natural high in humans, inspires this beautiful choker. Photo Credit: Raven Hanna

Personal site:

August 8, 2011

Pahoa digs series: Naturally-heated swimming (no, not from pee)

Ahalanui Park, home to a volcanically-heated brackish hot pond, is the perfect place to relieve stress without having to pay the costly fee of a spa or sauna.

Most people are attracted to the Ahalanui Park pond for the stress-alleviating properties of the warm water that is much akin to a hot tub. However, there are also many picnicking families who enjoy the family-friendly atmosphere of the park.

Benches provided for picnicking families.

Fish share the pool with waders, let in through a small inlet that connects the pond to the ocean. Usually there are one or two snorkelers, though there are mixed reviews on the quality of snorkeling at the park. Some days it is too dark to see much.

Inexperienced swimmers should be cautious and watch out for the lava rock at the bottom, which can be mossy and slippery.

The temperature of the pond, locally referred to as simply “the warm ponds” or “hot ponds”, can reach 90 degrees, according to

Restrooms, picnic tables, and barbecue grills are among the amenities offered at this little beach park.

Quiet waters to rejuvenate the soul.

The park is open to the public and a lifeguard is on duty almost daily.

August 2, 2011

Pahoa digs: Off the beaten path

Musicians, dancers, yogis and yoginis harmonize their beats to form an unlikely band Sundays at Kehena Beach on the Big Island.

Citizens of Pahoa and a few visitors who have strayed off the beaten track play flutes, beat on bongo drums and strum guitars every week on the unofficial “drum circle” day.

Uninhibited souls dance to the smooth beats, and yoga enthusiasts sync their asanas (yoga poses, for the less yoga familiar) to the tunes.

Did I mention that approximately half of the partakers are buck naked?

Kehena, located in the Puna district of Hawaii, is one of the few beaches in the state of Hawai’i that is considered a clothing optional beach.

The black sand beach welcomes all beachgoers: short, tall, big, small, those in bikinis or board shorts, and yes, even those who prefer to go au naturel.

Meeting some really funny characters is inevitable on the shores of Kehena. People from around the world visit, enamored with the secluded location and easygoing aura. Don’t worry though, the general atmosphere of the beach is friendly. It is not uncommon to be offered a freshly-cracked coconut or to be the recipient of someone’s surplus of papaya or mountain apples.

On good days, dolphins can be seen frolicking through the waves. Some strong swimmers take advantage of the opportunity, grab their snorkels and swim out to see the dolphins up close. And, if you’re really lucky, you may be able to catch a glimpse of a whale jumping out of the water.

However, the current at Kehena is not to be taken lightly. Caution is urged when the waves look choppy. A California man drowned in the ocean in December 2006, according to a media release on the Hawaii Police Department website.

A piece of advice that is always good to follow, from the State of Hawaii Department of Public Health: “If in doubt, DON’T go out!”

Despite the possibility of the occasional rough day, the surf at Kehena can be calm and swimmer-friendly. Crowds of people wade in the water for instant refreshment on warm, sunny days. Trees create cool, shaded places to lounge for the ocean-shy, while other treeless areas satisfy sunshine-hungry sunbathers.

Making the trip to Kehena is a unique and rewarding experience. Forget about the fast-paced world, listen to the waves caressing the shore, slow down a bit and melt into the laid-back Hawaiian lifestyle.

This is volume 3 in the Pahoa Digs series. Interested in reading previous installments? Pay a visit to or for the full series.

July 25, 2011

Pahoa digs series: Ning’s Thai Cuisine serves curry, memories

Aromatic spices of cooking curry tickles my nose; a pleasant Thai melody fills my ears with ambient noise. Taken on a journey across the years by the familiar atmosphere, I rest assured that Ning’s Thai Cuisine will give me a delicious dinner that will make my taste buds tingle.

My table orders a slew of different curries: green, red and pineapple. We also order both sticky rice and brown rice. A real likeable aspect of Ning’s is being able to try many different dishes; everyone receives separate plates.

The pillow of rice goes onto the plate, followed by a heaping of vegetable-filled curry. The sauce absorbs into the rice like a sponge, but the rice remains just right, with a certain amount of softness and chew. The smooth coconut milk in the sauce marriages perfectly with the blend of spices.

If there is one thing you learn from reading this article, it is to not pass up the curries if you visit Pahoa town. To do so would be a crime ending in non-delicious demise. The curries are the highlight of the menu.

Don’t forget to order a Thai Iced Tea, which is described by the menu as “a sweet and creamy orange tint drink.” The blaringly orange beverage is a thick, sweetened black tea topped with coconut milk or cream.

Star anise, crushed tamarind and cardamom are occasionally added to Thai iced tea, according to

Ning’s Thai Cuisine is a choice dining spot for locals, and tourists who drop by aren’t quick to forget their experience.

“I had it [Thai food] in Wisconsin, and I had it in Illinoi

s and in Kona, but one thing I can say certainly is that Ning’s surpassed all of them,” says Austin Cole, a visiting University of Minnesota Twin Cities student.

“If you’re taking someone on a date, [the prices] are all good,” adds Cole.

Asked about the atmosphere of the restaurant, he answers and laughs, “the atmosphere… I would say it was casual… But I think everything in Hawaii seems casual coming from a straight-laced Wisconsin kid.”

Not counting desserts or beverages, the menu consists of 45 different dishes: appetizers, soups, curries, entrées, seafood, rice and noodles. Ning’s has it all: sweet or savory, mild, medium or hot. And, believe it or not, nothing costs more than $13.95 on their printed menu. There are so many options, but they all share the same outcome: tasty food and pure satisfaction.

Come in before 4:30 p.m. to partake in the super lunch deal: one of three entrées and a choice of rice for $8.95 with tofu, chicken, beef, or pork; or $10.95 for shrimp, scallops, or squid. The deal entrées change daily. The dinner deals aren’t too bad either: $14.95 for an entrée with rice.

Pumpkin curry makes a cameo appearance from time to time on the specials menu, though not listed on the print menu. Curious foodies can try this delightfully creamy dish at the Maku’u Farmer’s Market, where Ning’s sells several varieties of curry on Sunday mornings.

A webpage is the closest Ning’s Thai Cuisine has to an official website, where they have a neat four and a half stars based off of 37 reviews. It’s definitely an ode to the exceptional food served at the restaurant.

As the day dims to night, the strand of festive, albeit unseasonal, Christmas bulbs flicker punctuated every few feet by a dead bulb, and I think to myself in a state of taste-induced bliss: Yep, it’s just as good as I remember it.

Ning’s Thai Cuisine is open Monday through Saturday 12pm to 9pm and Sundays 5pm to 9pm.

This is volume 2 in the Pahoa digs series. Interested in reading the previous installments? Pay a visit to or for the full series.

July 18, 2011

Pahoa digs series: Exploring the unexplored, or adventures in my hometown

School has ended and I find myself escaping the hubbub of Honolulu living and into the quiet throws of tiny Pahoa town. I happen to be one of the thousands of college students heading home for summer vacation, back to all of the old places I loved to hang out at during my high school days.

Most people have never even heard of Pahoa. Hawaii’s income relies heavily on the tourist industry, yet Hilo and Kona are so much more visited than other areas of the island.

Drive forty minutes out of the popular tourist destination Hilo and enter a whole new realm. Pahoa town, population size a meager 962 according to the 2000 government census, is a quirky little place filled with bizarre characters and home to beautiful, tropical hot spots.

As with all small towns, most places of interest are obvious to locals, but totally unheard of to others, like the good surf at Pohoiki or relaxing at the volcanically-heated Ahalanui hot pond.

Travelers going further past Pahoa may find themselves in tiny rural neighborhoods, like Kalapana, which has been attracting more visitors since the opening of the Lava Viewing Site in 2009.

While many families have lived in Pahoa for generations, handfuls of newcomers also come to Pahoa to live untouched by big corporations and business men in business suits stuffed in big high-rise buildings.

Then, with the old-timers and newbies, there lies an eccentric crowd in Pahoa: those who don earthy-colored bohemian wear, perhaps with a bit of Rastafarian red, green, and yellow here and there, and full heads of dreadlocks. Some smell like incense, particularly patchouli.

This crowd, lovingly referred to as “hippies” by the local high-schoolers, are also interested in getting back to a more natural way of life.
Interestingly enough, Wikipedia notes that “there is a significantly large vegetarian or vegan community” in the district of Puna. True, the validity of Wikipedia can be debated (as our professors always caution), but that had to have been written by somebody. And, indeed, it is not hard to find vegetarian options, and even vegetarians, in Pahoa.

Living at home again this summer makes me think: sure, I know Pahoa and what it has to offer, but visitors are sorely missing out on some great digs.

Pahoa has it’s own distinctive charm, marked by a relatively unstirred way of life. Whether you’re an adventurous island explorer or a vacationer trying to kick back, Pahoa has a little bit of something for everyone.

I’ve decided to delve deeper into my roots this summer and uncover what hidden treasures lie in the place I call my hometown. Check up on my blog weekly to stay updated on my future expeditions: wading in the hot pond, slurping down local curry, and trying not to fall and scrape myself on the rough a’a lava rock as I trek across my little hometown Pahoa.

April 8, 2011

Fear speaking no longer with Toastmasters

The Toastmasters club seeks to take the fear out of public speaking, whether going to a job interview or giving a class presentation. Harley Diven reports.

Those interested in joining can visit the official website here.

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