My Samoan dad raised us on old recordings of Hawai’ian comedians, like Rap Reiplinger, Don Ho and other Hawaiian artists. By the time I visited Hawai’i, I knew basic Hawai’ian Pidgin, and the proper ways and times to wear an ie lavalava, or “sarong” .

I didn’t realize how much easier living in Hawaii was because I knew these simple things until my friend from Missouri moved out here. A few things we told her are things I’d like to share with you today:


The Hawaiian State Flag

1) You do not need a passport to come to Hawai’i from America. Hawai’i really is the 50th state

2) Everyone in Hawai’i does not speak Hawai’ian. Hawai’ian is offered as an elective in many of Hawai’i’s schools, but

is not required and at one time was banned. According to To-Hawai’, the Hawai’ian language (aka: Olelo Hawai’i) is one of the oldest languages in the world, but only 0.1% of the Hawai’ian population are actually fluent. If you come across someone who speaks Hawai’ian, consider it an honor.  Most of the population speaks Hawai’ian pidgin**. For example,

the Hawai’ian greeting word is aloha, but most people greet each other on the streets with Howzit?  As in

“How is it going?”


3) Also, not everyone knows how to surf, or play the ukulele, or throw a luau, or dance the hula, or make a flower lei, or roast a pig.
4) Aloha shirts. First of all, they are Aloha shirts, not Hawai’ian shirts. (I was teased for my mix-up when I first got here, too. It’s OK.) Aloha shirts are considered acceptable as business/nice casual. In fact, many businesses in Hawai’i adjust their dress code to fit this standard, like Pizza Hut!  (The lavalava also falls under the business/nice casual standard.)
A real roasted pig at the Polynesian Cultural Center. The servers are wearing lavalavas.


Polynesian Cultural Center Hawaiian Dancers

5) Dress and culture. If you were expecting to see women on the beach in grass skirts and coconut bras, you likely will be disappointed. Grass shacks have also gone out of style and most locals live in walled houses—just like on the mainland. By the way, the fast hip-shaking dance you’ve probably seen in movies as “the hula” is actually the Tahitian dance called the ote’a. And please, don’t make the mistake of teasing a male for wearing a flower in their ear—they might be nice and let you off the first time, like they did for me, but I just wouldn’t chance it. Same goes for the lavalavas.

6) Being born/raised in Hawai’i does not make a person Hawai’ian. I am technically a “Missourian” because I was born/raised in Missouri, but this is not true for Hawai’i because Hawai’i was its own country and people before it was a state. However, the spirit of the culture allows one to be accepted as Hawai’ian in spirit even though they are not Hawai’ian by blood.

7) Last but not least, your problems will not disappear because you come to Hawai’i. Unfortunately, life always seems to catch up to us again. But, it’s a great place for a break!


Benny Kai, musician extraordinaire and Ambassador of Aloha for the Polynesian Cultural Center, known affectionately as “Unko Benny”.

J. M. Levi
** Pidgin is a compilation of 5 languages. A Creole is a compilation of 5 or more languages. The Hawai’ian pidgin is technically a creole, but it’s been known as a pidgin for so long, they’ve decided to keep referring to it as a pidgin.
**More on the Hawai’ian language:
**Hawai’ian Pidgin:
– (this site only covers 5 of the languages)
Hawai’ian population:
Not a state?
Rap Reiplinger:
– Room Service:
Don Ho:
– Tiny Bubbles:
– Hukilau:

About Jerrica
My name is Jerrica M. Levi and I am married to Mark Levi, who is training to be a supervisor at Subway in Laie. I am Afakasi (half-Samoan) and a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints from Missouri. I originally came to Laie to help my sister, Shyla Lafaele, babysit, but I stayed because I fell in love with the Aloha Spirit and refused to part from it. Eventually, I attended Brigham Young University-Hawaii. I excel in English reading, writing, and analyzing. Up until a few months ago, I was a Shift Manager at Pizza Hut Laie and a Student Manager at the Brigham Young University-Hawaii Reading Writing Center. In April 2014, I received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, minor in Psychology. Now, my professional title is a Part-Time Instructor for the English Department at Brigham Young University-Hawaii teaching English 101.My hobbies and interests include singing, dancing, and writing. I am drawn to and passionate about charitable organizations, such as Locks of Love and Radiating Hope. Activities that include the outdoors, spending time with children, using my creativity, and/or helping those in need are activities of which I am honored to participate. I also enjoy playing various games, watching Anime, and experiencing other such adventures with my husband. Someday, we will have children of our own, but until that time, I value opportunities I receive to spend time with children and help them grow and learn. My ultimate teaching goal is to teach in a Middle School because that is when I feel creativity blossoms the most. My ultimate writing goal is to write something that will influence or change at least one person’s life for the better. I suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and hope to become a strong and professional beacon for others who struggle with likewise symptoms. Life is tough, but bit by bit, we can make it through. Keep your head high and do not be ashamed of your healing tears.Achievements-Graduated with a 3.6 GPA -2014 Woman of the Year for National Association of Professional Women-Initiated member of the Sigma Tau Delta: International English Honor Society (Alpha Beta Delta Chapter) -Nationally Certified Level 3 CRLA English TutorPublications:“How It Feels to be Artistic Me.” Kula Manu. (2014): 10-12. Brigham Young University-Hawaii. Print. “Locks of Love.” Kula Manu. (2014): 60-66. Brigham Young University-Hawaii. Print. “Valentine? Gimme a Break.” Ke Alaka’i. 106.6 (2014): 18. Brigham Young University-Hawaii. Print.  “For What It’s Worth.” Kula Manu. (2013): 88-90. Brigham Young University-Hawaii. Print.