Hawaiian college student finds acceptance and comfort in Native American student groups at Syracuse University
, 2022-12-08 11:53:00,
Often, non-indigenous people are guilty of ignoring the nuances of indigenous peoples. Life as an Indigenous person can look, sound, and feel very different depending on where one is from. For example, Native Hawaiians have a completely separate culture and history from the Native people of the continental United States. However, there are also many shared values and expectations of respect that extend across different societies.
From Hawaii to Syracuse
Even before leaving home, Syracuse University student Aisha Lynn Kilohilani Waylin Estrella knew she wouldn’t meet many Native Hawaiians in central New York. Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders make up only one-tenth of one percent of the student body at Syracuse University. Estrella’s parents had never heard of Syracuse and discouraged her from going so far to college. Many of her friends never leave the island, let alone travel to the East Coast. As such, Estrella had to complete her application and provide the financial assistance herself. When she arrived in Syracuse in the fall of 2020, she spent her first week quarantined in a hotel due to COVID restrictions, missing student orientation and information sessions.
As Estrella worked through the difficult logistics, she also began to encounter obstacles related to cultural differences. She felt a level of passive-aggressive behavior and hypocrisy from her interactions with her white peers in…
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