By the students, for the students of Central Washington University

The Observer

By the students, for the students of Central Washington University

The Observer

By the students, for the students of Central Washington University

The Observer

Polyfest showcases Pacific Island Cultures

Winnie Killingsworth
Dancers performing on stage at Polyfest.

For over two hours on May 18, the SURC Ballroom was filled with chee-hoo cheers, music, dancing and cascading dollar bills. 

Polyfest, advertised on posters throughout campus as “[a] celebration of culture through music, performances, and interactive games” was hosted by the Pacific Islander Student Association (PISA). 

Happening during Asian and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, Polyfest had “over 500 people in attendance,” Letali Aulava, PISA secretary, said.

The islands represented in the showcase were Māori, Hawai’i, Tahiti, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa. Dances of females, males and both sexes filled the event with activities in between each island’s segment. If people in the audience liked the dancing on stage, they could come up and throw bills at the dancers they liked the most. 

The activities, all involving audience participation, included musical chairs, a scavenger hunt, ‘jingle in the truck’ and a chee-hoo contest. 

Jingle in the trunk is when you have a tissue box with ping pong balls in it, tied around your waist and you have to shake your hips to get the balls to fall out of the kleenex box. Whoever does it fastest wins. 

Chee-hoo is used by Samoans to express happiness and excitement. The audience got to cheer for their favorite participant to decide who had the best chee-hoo. 

“We had people from different backgrounds and cultures join our club and dance,” Josiah Nikolao who goes by Niko, PISA president, said “I felt it was great to see all of us come together and accomplish something like Polyfest.”

Nikolao’s personal favorite part what that he was “[building] new connections and make new friends.”

The preparation for the event started months before with “dance practices back in February [while they] also [built] our club from the bottom up,” Nikolao said. “Lots of fundraising in order to buy outfits that represent each culture and of course we had to take time to create those outfits.”

Aulava added that “all the other little behind the scenes details, it really takes every one of us to make it happen.”

One of the five hundred attendees, a senior majoring in anthropology, loved the event. 

“It was so much fun,” Dezarae Lenear said. “I had always wanted to go but the dates didn’t line up with my schedule so I was super happy I was able to go before I graduated. I think my favorite part was seeing my friends up on the stage, seeing my friends sharing their culture after working so hard to practice beforehand.”

Having happened in years past, momentum for next year’s event is already building. 

“We are already planning for next year starting with us trying to book for next year’s event,” Nikolao said.

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