A couple of weeks ago Purple Maiʻa hosted a fundraiser dinner! We are so thankful to everyone who came out to support the event. Guests, friends, collaborators, family, an amazing event planner (Co-Curate Hawaii), the chef and his team, students, and our staff from Oʻahu, Maui, and Hawaiʻi all came together to make the evening a fun gathering and a celebration. On a weekend that saw major flooding in other parts of the islands, we were extremely lucky to experience only a brief, light shower.

This year’s dinner was called “Code, Culture, No Cutlery” and featured dishes like sinangag, pinakbet, lechon, chicken adobo, and shrimp sisig prepared by Chef Jay of Hukilau Cafe. The kamayan style of eating was inspired by the Kamayan for Da Keiki pop-up dinner series hosted by Purple Maiʻa adviser Joey Aquino which we were honored to participate in last year. Other highlights of the night included the demo alley that showed off student work, the live music by Kīhei Nāhale-a, Kaipo Kukahiko and Dean Wilhelm, and the conversations people had as they waited for the food!

We mahalo everyone for sharing–through social media post, emails, and text messages–their manaʻo on the experience.

We also have to mahalo our title event sponsor Strada Education Network as well as our other event sponsors Central Pacific Bank, First Hawaiian Bank, First Insurance Company of Hawaiʻi, Hawaiian Telcom, Kamehameha Schools, Liliʻuokalani Trust, Sultan Ventures, and the many sponsors and donors for their help in making this event a financial success. Mahalo a nui loa!

In closing, we want to share some thoughts from ka ʻohana Purple Maiʻa.

Kelela on Emceeing

This was my first time being an emcee for a major event like this! Over 100 people came from different places, careers, and backgrounds to support our haumana and programs. I was very nervous and anxious because I wanted to do a good job, but with the help of my co-emcee, as well as the aloha spirit from the people there, I felt safe and had a lot of fun. During the planning process of our script, Forest and I wanted to keep the program student-centric and simple. I thought it went perfectly. My favorite part of emceeing that night was being able to share my experience working with students as well as interview a few students about their work this past school year. This night was truly memorable and was a huge success!

Kelsey on Kamayan

Although we are a Hawaiian organization, it’s fitting, I think, to remember that our staff and students have connections, values, and traditions that come from many ancestors. Plus, Hawaiʻi and the Philippines are connected by the ocean, by people, and by history (such as how the illegal annexation of Hawaiʻi was related to U.S. interference in the Philippine Revolution). Eating kamayan–with the hands–is similar to pounding our own kalo in that both are acts of reclaiming cultural pride through food practices that were once looked down on. Also, both are really delicious and fun.

Forest on Goals and Measures

You can always gauge an event by how loud and how many smiles you see on the faces of those in attendance. The backdrop of the Koʻolau mountains, making a virtual hug around our Purple Maiʻa ʻohana felt just as strong as the literal hug of supporters, haumana, and staff of our organization. Conversations echoed, laughter erupted, music flowed, and food was shared all in celebration of some incredibly hardworking and determined students who showcased their innovations to a crowd of over 200 people. Our goal for this event was twofold: To celebrate those that pick us up, helping to create pathways to engage and provide access to important computer science education. And more importantly, to hōʻike our haumāna building pride and resilience, creating memories that will last a lifetime. With your help we did that.