Aloha connection — Island Tidbits

June Ching, PhD from Oahu, Hawai`i shares Island Tidbits about the rich culture of Hawai`i, diversity of Hawaiian communities, physical layout of the islands, along with personal reflections about Hawai`i's treasures, places and people.


I am June Ching, PhD, a member of APA’s Division of Psychologists in Independent Practice (42) from Oahu, Hawai`i and chairperson of Division 42’s Diversity Task Force. As this year’s annual APA convention will be held in Hawaii this July/August, we thought it would be a wonderful opportunity for psychologists from our state to share Island Tidbits about the rich culture of Hawai`i, diversity of our communities, physical layout of the islands, along with personal reflections about Hawai`i’s treasures, places and people. For the next few months, I will be posting a series of short weekly Island Tidbits as part of our Aloha Connection. We also will be tapping into the unique features of the four respective islands of Oahu, Maui, Hawai`i (Big Island), and Kauai. 

What distinguishes Hawai`i from other states is the Aloha Spirit which permeates throughout every aspect of our island home. The literal definition of Aloha is the “presence of breath” or the “breath of life.” It is derived from “Alo” meaning presence and “ha” meaning breath. Aloha is used as a greeting of hello or goodbye, of love and affection. However, the symbolic deeper meaning extends beyond a salutation but embodies a traditional Hawai`ian way of living and treating each other with love, compassion and respect. Aloha is sending and receiving a positive energy. The essence of Aloha is living in harmony with mutual regard. When you live in the Spirit of Aloha, it permeates in space, multiplies and spreads to others. Queen Lili`uokalani stated, “Aloha is to learn what is not said, to see what cannot be seen, and to know the unknowable.”

In Hawai`i, the family, or ohana, is revered. While you are here on the islands, you will be part of our extended ohana, where the Aloha Spirit prevails. An expression of the Aloha spirit is the giving and receiving of leis, a circle of unending Aloha. When you give a lei of Aloha, you are literally sharing a breath of life, a part of you, your essence, your mana.

In addition to partaking in the substantive convention program by seeking na`auao, or knowledge, I would also like to encourage you to ma`lama or take good care of yourselves, by using your time in Hawai`i as a way to relax the body and replenish the mind and soul. Enjoy the cultural diversity, the natural beauty of the islands, and let it ‘all hang loose.’ Experience what island living is really like. While you are in Hawai`i , do things ‘island style.’ Make it a point to learn a few Hawaiian words every day.

Start with the word kapu. It is absolutely kapu or forbidden, for you to wear suits or nylons in Hawai`i. You can always tell who the first day convention attendees are by their attire. They are wearing suits, ties, stockings and somber colors. Second day conventioneers tend to discard their ties and pack their Ferragamo shoes away. In the third day of the convention, people are more relaxed and wear t-shirts along with rubber zoris. By the final day, attendees are clad in surfer shorts and bikinis... and of course their leis. Casual is the way to go. In fact, using the local pidgin dialect, we have a rule for dressing, "mo loose, mo wild, mo colorful, mo betta."

Another important word is holoholo, which means to get out or walk about. It is kapu to stay indoors all day. You must get out and holoholo each day. Enjoy a spectacular sunset, strolling on one of our white sandy beaches. Listen to the sound of the waves washing ashore. Take in the sight of our exotic mountain ranges. Find glimpses into Hawai`i’s past. Savor some of the island delicacies — `ono chocolate covered macadamia nuts, malasadas and mouthwatering shave ice with lilikoi syrup.

Psychologists in Hawai`i practice pono, or maintaining working harmony between partners or the communities we serve. We would like to extend our kokua (desire to assist) to all of you, while attending the annual convention in our Aloha state.

If you are interested in receiving future Island Tidbits on Navigating the Islands, please sign up for the APA Public Interest Directorate Convention blog.

Warm Aloha