Sunday, April 7, 2013

Let's Just Pretend I'm Polynesian

      My family can attest to the fact that I've always been fascinated by Polynesian cultures.  I went to the Polynesian Cultural Center in Hawaii when I was 12 and have been incredibly interested (I don't think I've reached obsessed quite yet) since that time.  This interest can explain my taking Polynesian dance and participating in the BYU Lu'au.  It may not be a completely typical interest for a white-as- white-can-be girl, but I embrace it.  This interest in all things Polynesian can also partially explain my coming to New Zealand.  I knew I'd experience awesome as Polynesian things while I was here and folks, I have NOT been disappointed.  From my host family, to my class, to the festivals, everything has reminded me that I just love Polynesian cultures!  Now for the visual evidence.

My AMAZING host family
All of us after watching Kaylee's performance


We had to take a picture of our matching outfits! White T-shirts, colorful pants/skirt, and half-up, half-down hair


Kaylee (farthest left on the front row)

Poor kid fell asleep on the way to...
...and on the way home from Poly Fest (don't feel too bad for him though...he was so tired because he stayed up till 4 am playing PlayStation!)

She is an absolute angels and always talks about us as her daughters. She also makes the most delicious food and always brings us new New Zealand foods to try. She's the best! 

I think it's safe to say that the Leato family is one of the most amazing families on this planet.  Living in their home is a joy and I am going to miss it so incredibly much.  We do so many fun things with them and really feel like part of their family. Some of our favorite activities include...

Singing at the top of our lungs to Pink/Fun...
 and Bruno Mars;

watching scary movies (why we picked The House at the End of the Street I don't know!);

celebrating birthdays (we've celebrated multiple each week...our extended host family is quite big);

and spending Saturday nights eating dinner at Muma and Papa's with all these cuties!  (Sidenote: the little boy on the far right, Ammon, pointed me out to his mom and told her I was an angel. How cute can you get???)

My Class at Henderson Primary School
I had the wonderful opportunity of teaching a Year 5/6 (4th/5th grade class) at Henderson Primary School. I may be a bit bias, but seriously, my class was AMAZING! They were crazy and so full of energy, but they were wonderful! I've only been away from my students for a few days, but I miss them like crazy!  I'm only going to show you a few pictures of them now because a whole post about just them is coming soon!

Ah! They are the best!!

Just chillin' during T-ball

Oh this little boy! This is Hunter. He wasn't actually in my class (he's only 5), but oh how I adored him!  I wanted to bring him home with me! On this particular day, we spent at least an hour practicing our balance, telling stories about pirates, burying treasure, counting rocks, and practicing saying please and thank you. I love this little boy! 

Pasifika is a cultural festival put on each year by members of the Auckland community.  Most of the Polynesian islands have a specified area in which booths are set up with traditional food, merchandise, and performances.  We went to Pasifika with our fam bamily and it was pretty great!  Some of the highlights were...

A beautiful location,

Samoan pancakes (imagine fried banana bread) (Sooo good!),

sweet as booths for shopping of course,

the best roommates ever,

and the cutest host siblings in all of New Zealand!

Poly Fest
Poly Fest is another cultural festival, but is put on by the high schools (or colleges, as they are called here) in the surrounding area.  The schools have performing groups that practice for ages to then perform and compete for places.  We only watched some of the kapa haka sets (New Zealand) and some of the Samoan sets, but it's safe to say that these kids KNOW WHAT'S UP!! They were amazing and they really made me wish I was Polynesian (so I could join them of course!).

These lovely ladies are truly the best! 

Pineapple + ice cream = heaven! Will I be hollowing out pineapples and eating ice cream out of them all summer? Um yes! I believe so!

Now to the actual performances...
Kapa Haka (These guys were A-MAZING!)

Hakas give we chills every single time I watch them.

Okay so this video shows something that I just think is darn right awesome! Many times after a kapa haka group performs their official set, members of the audience do their own hakas in response.  It's a way to show respect to the performing group and it is sweet as! (Sorry the video is so small.)  

 My host sister Kaylee was part of her school's Samoan group and they were INCREDIBLE! (And no, I'm not bias at all. You'll see for yourselves!)

Of course Kaylee was the one girl I couldn't actually see in this picture :(

Take a look at Kaylee's sasa. Guys, it was unreal! These kids can move their hands as fast as uh I don't know lightning ? (dumb simile but whatever) (Again, sorry the video is so small.)

I've never felt so white in my entire life, but I loved it! haha

More to come very very soon!



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