More than 100 students and faculty members attended the second annual Taste of the Pacific event December 1, a festival featuring singing, dancing and storytelling that celebrated the heritage of North Park University’s Pacific Islander students.
“We are far away from home, but we have created a home here; we’re not a club, we’re a family,” said Rakiiba Va’alele, one of the founders of the Pacific Cultural Association, the group that put on the event.
The performances were designed to showcase the cultures of several Pacific Island nations, including Fiji, Hawaii, New Zealand, Tahiti and Samoa.
“God and family—in that order—is the way of Polynesian Culture,” said Michael Conway, the event’s honorary speaker and also NPU’s head football coach. Conway and his wife, Beth, NPU’s project manager for student engagement, are longtime supporters of the PCA. “I’m thankful for you all, and I’m thankful for these young people.”
Throughout the night, students used song and dance to tell stories of their island nations’ cultures. Performers dressed in traditional garb, changing each time the audience “traveled” along to another island.
According to founders Va’alele and Leautea Faiai, the PCA’s vision is to see the Pacific Islander Community at North Park connected, empowered, and cared for academically, spiritually, emotionally, and physically.
The event was sponsored by the Office of Diversity and the Student Government Association. A portion of the proceeds from the $7 admission price went toward NPU’s tuition assistance fund for Pacific Islander students.
SGA Vice President, Anosh Wasker, said the event showcases the best of NPU.
“Events like these bring out what North Park stands for, which is being multi-cultural,” Wasker said at the end of the night. “They show their own culture, they preserve their own culture, but also help others experience their culture.”