By Lexus Yamashiro | Staff Writer
On Thursday, Nov. 8, students gathered in ʻIliahi 123ABC to attend the first meeting of the new KCC club, Pacific Islanders United (PIU). The club, which is led by second-year student Willy Kapier, was created as an opportunity to bring students together to recognize those who identify as a Pacific Islander.
“Not all Pacific Islander students have a place … nobody recognizes them, so I created this club so that we create our own image for us Pacific Islanders,” said Kapier, who is of Pohnpeian (Micronesian) decent.
Kapier, who is majoring in Hospitality and Tourism with a concentration in Travel, is encouraging students of all backgrounds to be a part of PIU so that everyone can unify with those from other countries and develop the bond of a family.
Johnson Nguyen was one of these students who attended the meeting on Thursday, seeing it as a chance to meet new people and break out of his comfort zone as an introvert. Despite being Vietnamese, the 19-year-old expressed interest in the club to learn about the culture and history of Pacific Islanders and is even hoping to work alongside Kapier as vice-president.
Nguyen, a Honolulu native, spoke up to suggest activities such as touring the island and making a bonfire that the club could do to bond and learn from one another. Others pitched ideas that would involve the community such as organizing a beach clean up, performing cultural songs and dances for the children and elders, and visiting high schools to inform students about what it means to be a Pacific Islander.
Along with these potential activities, Kapier announced that he could provide PIU members with Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), scholarship, and registration workshops being that he works as a Hoʻokele Peer Mentor for the First-Year Experience (FYE) office.
As the club has several activities and events to choose from to carry out its purpose, it has generated a motivational interest within Tafatolu Gafa, a Liberal Arts major who is a close friend of Kapier. Gafa explained that he often finds himself struggling to find the drive to go to school but hopes that joining the club will encourage and give him a new reason to get through college.
“I was just checking out what I can find new here [and] meet new friends,” said the first-year student.
Believing that PIU will be able to help students build friendships, Gafa hopes to see this club expand to other college campuses in the future.
With the next club meeting’s date still being determined, Kapier is hoping to bring people on board through the Makahiki games event which will take place on the Great Lawn on Nov. 30 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. In order to participate, Kapier is seeking about six to eight students who would be interested in forming a team with him to represent PIU.
Aside from recruiting more members, Kapier is searching for students who would be committed to taking on a role as a club officer. PIU currently has a vice-president, secretary, and treasurer position open for applications. Interested students can reach out to Kapier at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As the club moves forward, Kapier is working to reach out to more people on campus being that only a few are aware of the club’s presence.
“If we’re going to do activities … like, from our own cultures, it will make a huge impact to other students and students will want to try [and] learn the difference between all of the cultures that we have,” Kapier said.