Okinawa students get taste of Kaua‘i at KCC

PUHI — “Can you help them?” Jennifer Defuntorum said as she escorted the seven students past a table outside the Kaua‘i Community College cafeteria.

“They’re from Okinawa and they don’t really understand what these items are,” she said. “We need a translator.”

Seven students from Okinawa Christian Junior College arrived Sunday for a two-week stay here, where they will be involved in a variety of activities centered around the KCC campus.

“We have the Okinawa Christian College program as well,” said Hidehiko Motohama, the teacher-chaperone for the group. “But for some reason, only the junior college students signed up this year.”

For Motohama and a lot of the students, this is their first trip to Kaua‘i, although the chaperone said students and teachers have been doing the cultural visit for about 15 years.

“Every one is an English major,” Motohama said. “There is one who is a second-year student. The rest are first-year students.”

The trip to the KCC campus ties in with their field of study, Motohama said. Additionally, the students intend to learn about the Hawaiian culture during the two-week visit.

Yesterday afternoon, the students worked on lauhala projects with Debbie Tuzon.

“We bought those souvenir photo albums and the students created lauhala covers for them,” Tuzon said. “That was on the first day. In addition to being decorative, they can use them as place mats.”

Wednesday’s project involved lauhala bracelets and hula lessons back at their hotel.

This weekend, the group will split and stay with local host families.

“Depending on their host families, the students may come to the 21st Annual ACF Breakfast,” Defuntorum said. “It’s all up to the host family.”

Today’s schedule calls for the students to learn Hawaiian cooking, and chef Martina Hilldorfer has already selected the menu — laulau and poke.

“We already went and cut the ti leaves for them,” Defuntorum said. “It should be interesting because one of the students is a registered chef in Okinawa.”

Hilldorfer said she’ll devote about 30 minutes to hygiene and cleaning before going into the kitchen.

From that point, the students will be hands-on in creating the local dishes.

“The best part,” Hilldorfer said. “They get to eat what they make.”

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