MEHS Hawaii “Five Oh”
Hawaii, the 50th state of the United States is a chain of islands, seamounts (sea mountains) in the middle of the north Pacific Ocean. It is not only a popular tourist destination for its beauty, balmy good weather and friendly folks, it is truly the crossroads of the East and the West … with a vibrant native Hawaiian culture.
Embracing the best of both worlds, this “Pacific Gateway” is an ideal setting to connect, renew and reinvigorate the friendships made from childhood in and out of school, as well as those you have made at previous reunions.
MEHS is unique in that when I mention a High School Reunion, folks think it is a reunion of one graduating class. In essence we are many graduating classes, from different years, backgrounds and language groups united in our quest for learning, as school children in a diverse and dynamic world. Even after graduation, each of us carries that MEHS spirit and brightness in our lives.
There are at least 50 reasons to visit the islands which include attending the upcoming 7th International Reunion in Honolulu. Honolulu is the capital of the island of Oahu as well as of the entire state of Hawaii. Upon invitation of Lily Chen for a look see trip, I just spent nine mostly rainy days there.
The primary mission was to check on the venue and the menu with focus on keeping prices low without sacrificing quality.
Here are my impressions and photos, since pictures speak a thousand words.
Ala Moana Hotel is a world class hotel situated in Waikiki across from the beach, and connected to the main shopping mall by a land bridge from the hotel. The mall is not just for shopping, it also affords other activities such as free Hula performances to the public at Center Stage. It has a big food court, an alternative to restaurant and hotel dining. The hotel manager showed us sample rooms ranging from $145/night to a corner suite with a kitchenette and spectacular views for $265/night.
Breakfast buffet at the hotel’s Plantation Café is a set price, $16.85. [15% off for 55 years and up]. Cost of hotel parking is $20.00/day.
Visitors to the hotel lobby are greeted by an outrigger boat and a beautiful display of blooming orchids in a profusion of colors. Besides the reception area, the main floor has a tour desk, shops, a business center and the Rumours Night Club.
Hotel guests seen in the lobby include those from the airline industry. Nowadays, with the vagaries of travel, no one needs to experience a paradise turning into hell. So, it is comforting to know that their clientele includes this industry where predictability and consistency of service are critical to the performance of their jobs.
Given its location, quality and the size of rooms, this hotel is an excellent value for the price.
When booking, please check out the website for all the particulars you are seeking in your room, i.e., size, price, view, etc.
Lanikuhonua Cultural Institute
On an exceptionally sunny day, we visited Lanikuhonua Cultural Institute, the venue for the Reunion in Ko’ Olina which means a “Place of Joy.” It is a distance from Honolulu proper and is a resort area. Nearby are: Paradise Cove where Luaus are staged regularly for visitors, a Disney Resort and a Marriott Resort. There is also a golf course with condos close by.
Lanikuhonua or in Hawaiian, “Where Heaven Meets the Earth,” is a beautiful spot. A cultural site, it is popular for holding weddings and private corporate functions. It has a lovely view of a distant mountain, has a small sandy beach and a tide-pool with calm waters…but is not set up for beach combing.
The grounds have many trees, flowers and foliage that you will remember from our childhood. There is a special area sacred to the native Hawaiians for performing ceremonies. We are honored to be allowed access to this site.
The Menu: Pacific Gateway Center
We are fortunate to have the Pacific Gateway Center cater food at this Reunion. Why so and what is the connection with MEHS? Burmese soul food as I call it is made from hard to find vegetables, ingredients and flavors we have loved since childhood. These flavors will make their appearance at the Reunion, thanks to the innovative pioneering efforts of the Executive Director of the non-profit Pacific Gateway Center. Dr. Tin Myaing Thein (Faith Tin), an MEHS alumna herself.
Pacific Gateway Center through innovation and creativity empowers immigrants and refugees, most of them survivors of human trafficking, to become self-sufficient and economically independent. Most of them are Burmese and Thai farmers. They are transforming the rich volcanic soil into land producing chin baung and other Asian vegetables. This has transformed Honolulu’s culinary scene.
This organization provides comprehensive integrated assistance from language help and affordable housing to catering start-up companies.
What is a Reunion but a reaffirmation of ourselves as students, our youth, our enduring friendships…to honor our principal, our teachers, our parents and each other… to give thanks to the blessings of the quality education we received and coming together just to have FUN!
Cleo Kyin Oo Appleton
MEHS 7th International Reunion 2014