Cultural exchange in D.C. between UH and New Mexico University

June 29, 2012  |   |  1 Comment
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Despite a weather advisory and temperatures hovering between 102 and 105 degrees on Friday, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival went on as scheduled.

University of Hawaiʻi faculty member and author Maya Soetoro-Ng braved the heat to visit colleagues and UH exhibits on The National Mall where she said more than a million visitors will learn about the importance of the preservation of tradition and the power of harnessing indigenous culture.

“I also think it’s terrific that the university is having this opportunity to share and collaborate with other institutions and to have conversations of import and I think that the connections that are being forged here will probably be lasting,” Soetoro-Ng said.

University of Hawaiʻi delegates are having many opportunities to exchange cultural experiences with other public land-grant universities and colleges that are being featured in the festival.

UH students took part in a healing ritual at the University of New Mexico exhibit where traditional healers Tonita Gonzales and Rita Navarrete Perez led the group in asking for health, wisdom, illumination of heart, strength and spirit.

UH students and other participants held drums and bells and other instruments and rattled them during the ritual.

UH health and healing experts received healing treatments from New Mexico’s healers, who in turn received lomi lomi treatments from UH experts.

New Mexico’s healers presented, Keola Chan of UH Mānoa John A. Burns School of Medicine’s Department of Native Hawaiian Health, with a ceremonial headband and sash that are said to protect the healer’s energy.

“To me, it was about reconnecting as a people, bonding once again those relationships that we traditionally had when our ancestors used to sail,” said Chan.

In turn, Chan offered Navarrete Perez traditional Hawaiian ʻawa, which she accepted with gratitude.

“How important for us it is to share our sacred medicine from your beautiful country. And I feel the responsibility to share this experience to the people that come close to me in my life,” said Navarrete Perez, a traditional healer working with the University of New Mexico exhibit.

Experiences like this is what the festival is all about.

“Hopefully, the relationships, the two way flows will lead to other interesting projects of culture awareness and sharing and collaboration in the future,” Soetoro-Ng said.

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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  1. Tiati Kane says:

    I am so very proud to hear of this great sharing of traditional native practices being brought to the forefront of the universities. It is truly a blessing when cultures of different ethnicities can gather and share. I would have loved to have been a part of this. I am a college student at WCC on Oahu Hawaii my major is Natural Pathic medicine, i am currently creating my academic pathway to achive a degree in this field. I am all about continuning Laualapaau etc… learning other cultures and their medicinal plants would be of great importance to me. I am part of a nonprofit organization called PAcific cultural Institute where we teach traditional farming and values and way of life to our youth and adults. I would love to be apart of any fulture endeavors, here and out of our islands. Please ccontact me and let me know. Mahalo Nui Tiati wai Kane

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