Aloha Mai Kakou!
My name is Ashlyn Kuʻuleialoha Weaver and I was born and raised in beautiful Northern California. I have traveled all over the United States to experience new cultures and customs and through my opportunities that I have encountered; the best opportunity that I have been a part of is this one right here in Maui. I have lived here for a little over a year now and I have to say each day is a new experience.
Growing up, I didn’t experience the Hawaiian culture like any other local kid growing up on the islands. My grandma got married and moved over to the mainland in 1955, about four years before Hawaii became a state, and started her family in Northern California. At that time westernization was becoming an abundance leaving no room to pass on a culture that was labeled un-American. Naturally through chain reaction, my grandma didn’t pass the culture on to her children (my mom, aunties, and uncles), so forth the culture wasn’t passed onto the grandchildren (me, my brother, and my cousins), and so forth onto the great-grandchildren. I remember being ten years old going to the library and trying to read these massive college books about Hawaiʻi and not understanding any of it. I would look through the pages to find pictures so I could get some perspective of what Hawaiʻi looked like. At that point the books started to get old and I found new interest that pushed the culture I longed to know under the rug. It wasn’t until I was fifteen did I start to dance hula, after that it was a done deal; the light bulb inside my head went off. I became so obsessed with hula, that I finally started to feel that connection to my culture that I never knew about for my whole life. I started looking into colleges, community and universities, in Hawaiʻi, I didn’t know what I wanted to do, I just knew that I wanted to be over here. Coming around to my senior year of high school, now dancing three years of hula in San Francisco, I really started to refine my education choice for college. Looking through the degrees at all the colleges that are on the islands, I came to the conclusion…Hawaiian Studies! I am the first person in my immediate family in California to move back to Hawaiʻi and it has been a blast!
I graduated Vanden High School, located in the Bay Area of California, in 2011. I did my first year of college at Solano Community College also located in the Bay Area, and in the latter part of May 2012, I moved to Maui. I have lived here on Maui for a little over year, traveled all over this island, and met so many amazing people. The memories that I have created here are ones that I will cherish.
I want to say MAHALO NUI LOA to my absolutely amazing mom and dad. Without their incessant support I would definitely not be standing here today being able to graduate this Fall with my Associates Degree in Hawaiian Studies and my Associates Degree in Liberal Arts. Another MAHALO I want to extend is to my boyfriend and his family. Without them I wouldn’t feel a sense of home and connection. They have supported and are still supporting me through my academic and personal journeys and decision. Also I want to Mahalo the people that said I couldn’t do it. Without their non-support I wouldn’t be fighting this hard to get these degrees.