NAPILI - The Napili Kai Foundation recently completed a very successful trip to the Seattle/Olympia, Washington area.
The travel troupe consisted of 12 keiki (Courtney Ruidas, Nohealani Mahuna, Tori Tihada, Jordin Galarita, Leah Werblun, Jaela Naha, Kylie Ines, Lauryn Laborte, Briana Bandy, Lei-Aizza Liwanag, Nicki Liwanag and Nick Liwanag), three kumu (Kathy Holoaumoku Ralar, Kalei Jaramillo and Rance Villarimo), three musicians (Edsel Ralar Sr., Kincaid Kupahu and Edsel Ralar Jr.) and President Louise Ross. Vice President Janice Studwell joined the group in Olympia.
The week-long excursion included eight performances at Nisqually Elders Home, the Aha Mele Show (the foundation was invited by the Hawaiian Civic Club of Washington State), Evergreen State College, Panorama Retirement Community, Puyallup School, Chief Leschi Schools (K-12), Asia Pacific Cultural Center, and the Saghalie Middle School's Multicultural Night show.
Napili Kai Foundation keiki who traveled to Washington include (from left): front — Nick Liwanag, Kylie Ines, Lei-Aizza Liwanag, Nick Liwanag and Lauryn Laborte; second row — Courtney Ruidas, Tori Tihada, Briana Bandy and Jaela Naha; third row — Nohealani Mahuna, Jordin Galarita and Leah Werblun.
In addition to the cultural exchanges that the keiki experienced, the trip also included a day trip cruise to Tillicum Village on Blake Island State Park. This is a cultural experience found only in the Pacific Northwest with a theatrical performance of Coast Salish Native dance.
The keiki also toured the State Capitol in Olympia and the Evergreen State College campus.
The foundation received terrific local publicity from The Olympian newspaper following the Evergreen State College performance and was highlighted on the website of the Asia Pacific Cultural Center.
The Indian Nation schools provided incredible hospitality and wonderful interaction between their students and the Maui group.
The trip was made possible by a special golf tournament fundraiser organized by the foundation keiki's parents and with the continued support of Napili Kai Beach Resort's shareholders, owners and employees. The golf tournament will be held every year to make such trips possible every two to three years.
Comments and feedback received from the various venues, sponsors and guests were all positive and spoke of the professionalism of Napili Kai Foundation's keiki.
"It was a true testament both of the quality of teaching by our kumu and the commitment of our keiki. They proved to be perfect ambassadors of the aloha spirit and made Maui proud," noted Ross.
The Napili Kai Foundation, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, has been teaching and performing at Napili Kai Beach Resort since 1966. The program is completely free of charge to members, and upon graduation, students may apply for higher education scholarships.
For information on membership, contact Ross at 669-8384 or visit www.napilikaifoundation.org.