As I’ve said before, ‘Ulalena’s cast and crew are more than coworkers; they are a family – an ohana. They love each other, just like they love the ‘Ulalena show and story itself. Their knowledge of the Hawaiian culture and passion to learn even more is truly infectious. Being the new addition to the group has been both challenging and fun.
I, unlike the great majority of the cast and crew, am from the mainland and am a relative maui newcomer, living here for two years. Although, I visited the island many times growing up, my familiarity with the culture and language was still very limited. I just like most audience members and fans of ‘Ulalena am still learning about the basics of the culture. However, now as part of the ‘Ulalena team, I couldn’t have a better group of people to teach me. Every day I learn something new about the show, the culture, and the ‘Ulalena Ohana. Since starting with ‘Ulalena a little over a month ago, I have learned more about Maui and Hawaii than I’ve learned in my entire 23 years of existence prior. Starting with just seeing the show multiple times, each time understanding the story more and more, to the weekly Hawaiian language classes with the cast taught by Kipe – I am on Hawaiian culture overload, but in a great way!
As a part of the cast and crew blog features, I thought it would be a good idea to let you know a little bit about myself, the girl behind the social media, since you’ll get the chance to follow my personal journey of immersion into the Hawaiian culture.
Growing up in Washington state, I visited Maui a lot, but never expected to move here. However, after graduating from Washington State University in May 2010, I had sunshine and aloha on my mind and moved to Maui, jobless and friendless, hoping for the best. So far so good – almost two years later and I’m still here and still loving it.
I’ve always loved learning and being a student, so I’ve truly enjoyed the challenge of learning about the Hawaiian culture since joining ‘Ulalena. While I do enjoy the challenge, for the first time in my life I feel like THAT kid in class; the one that always tries hard, but still seems extra confused. Weekly Hawaiian language class is always interesting, but wow, Hawaiian is about 100 times more difficult to learn than Spanish. It’s not just a language, it’s a way of speaking. Learning such an ancient language and culture has been a humbling experience.
Every Facebook update, Tweet, and blog post, requires some sort of research on my end. For what might be common knowledge to those born and raised on Maui, is new and interesting knowledge for myself, the majority of the time. I really try to information that I myself find interesting and worth knowing.
All in all, the point of this blog post isn’t to tell you how proud you should be of what I’m trying to learn; I just want you to know where I’m coming from. If you’re new to the Hawaiian culture like me, then learn with me on my quest of cultural understanding. If you’re already a Hawaiian culture guru, then enjoy watching (and feel free to help) the learning take place!
Fun Facts about me, Valerye:
I love tiedye, basketball, running, music, and the Seattle Supersonics. I used to be a radio DJ in college. My hometown is a lavender mecca, and my first job was at a lavender farm – if you want to know anything about lavender, I most likely know the answer.