The University of Hawaiʻi has a huge presence at this year’s Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C., where students, faculty, staff and a supporting community are sharing their knowledge of agriculture, Hawaiian health and healing, aquaponics and other specialties with more than a million visitors from around the world.

That hasn’t escaped Hawaiʻi’s congressional delegation, which, along with Governor Neil Abercrombie, hosted a mahalo reception for festival participants in the nation’s capitol on June 28.

UH hula hālau chanted and danced, and Senator Daniel Akaka’s rendition of the Hawaiian Lullaby received resounding applause.

“I’m so proud to be amongst you here from Hawaiʻi because you’re just one of 20 universities in this country that was invited to be part of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival,” Akaka said.

Senior Senator Daniel Inouye expressed pride and support for the university’s work in reaching up to 1.5 million people on The National Mall.

“The Hawaiʻi delegation is extremely proud of the work you’re doing and we’d like to welcome the 80 UH students and faculty members who have come here to show the rest of the world and the rest of the nation that we in Hawaiʻi are now number one,” Inouye said.

“People on the mall coming by and they see what Hawaiʻi is, it is the only way we are going to get everyone to understand how special a place Hawaiʻi is, how wonderful aloha is and what it all means,” said U.S. Representative Colleen Hanabusa.

Congressional leaders say a world stage like the Smithsonian Folklife Festival can only help boost Hawaiʻi’s tourism industry, spark and increase interest in continuing research in specialties like aquaponics, and raise the potential for millions of dollars in research grants.

“There are a lot of people who are very interested in sustainability issues in terms of food and I think this is a revelation to them that there was a culture, that they protected the ʻaina,” said U.S. Representative Mazie Hirono.

“I don’t know that there’s ever been a time when I’ve been prouder of the university and more conscious of the very special role that the University of Hawaiʻi plays here in the United States today,” said UH President M.R.C. Greenwood.

Smithsonian Folklife Festival

The University of Hawaiʻi will be among 20 public land-grant universities to be featured in the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington D.C. from June 27 to July 8, 2012.

The festival celebrates the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Morrill Act, which paved the way for higher education for rural and working class Americans.

The University of Hawaiʻi exhibits will feature traditional Hawaiian health and healing practices, a mini taro patch, non-instrument navigation, medicinal herb and organic farming and much more. Hawaiʻi Community College’s halau Unukupukupu and the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s Tuahine Troup will also perform.

See more on the University of Hawaiʻi’s Smithsonian experience.

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