My sister forwarded your e-mail to me. She is living in Washington State and I reside in Kaliponi. Here are my answers. I moved from Hawai’i back in 1984. I was very young and hadn’t quite finished college but understood that I could get a lot more money working in California than I could in Hawai’i. Basically, I could support myself as I left home and family at a young age. The cost of living was too high and the pay scale was too low with little or no opportunity for a young woman to make her mark in any industry back home.
Cultural shock was the first thing that I encountered. Don’t get me wrong… I’m not a traditional looking Hawaiian. I’m tall, fair to olive complexion skin color (mother British from New Zealand) with slightly slanted eyes (father Hawaiian-Chinese). I don’t look like the typical “Californian” which at times worked to my advantage. My mother refused to allow us to speak “pidgin” in the house so we learned at a very early age to switch back and forth. This ability also assisted me in “blending-in” with the haole. It took me over 5 years to acclimate to the weather patterns of Northern California. You dress differently, for the seasons, and I had to expand my wardrobe to “fit-in.” This is very expensive so be prepared. The people here aren’t related to you in any fashion so greeting them with a kiss is out of the question. Not the same kind of aloha we have at home.
The food was very different and this too was very difficult. Now it is easier that more of us are here. More stores are carrying Aloha Shoyu and Hinode Rice. I can find some stores that carry laulau and there are a few “Hawaiian Style” restaurants – some not all that good but it is an improvement. Luckily there are quite a few Chinese and Japanese stores around.
My choice would be to move back home but I’ve been here so long that the weather back home bothers me a lot. The working wage is not comparable to what I’m making now and I have many relatives that don’t have steady work and not too much opportunity even if they are college educated. Too bad that home is no longer what I remember. Too many buildings, too many tourists and too many cars. The part that bothers me the most about moving back home is the various groups that want to label me and my siblings. We are Hawaiians born and raised but because we’re not half-Hawaiian we aren’t considered to be good enough. What a dilemma for us, not quite fitting in anywhere especially the place we call home.
Hope this finds you well and perhaps one day you will share your story with me.