Due to the surge in COVID-19 Delta variant cases, we had to postpone the Shaka Summit after our inaugural in-person session in July on “Protecting Cultural Stories.” Eventually, we decided to pivot to a virtual format via Zoom for the remainder of the series.

Two Countries Connected

On September 29, we held the second session of Shaka Summit virtually on connecting cultures and cultural exchanges between Japan and Hawaiʻi. The word “Shaka” is a Japanese word meaning “Fear not, go for it” that derives from Japan’s Shakyamuni Buddha (aka “Shaka-sama”) and brought to Hawaiʻi by Japanese and Okinawan plantation workers. The panel was moderated by Senator Glenn Wakai and attended by Hideto “Chip” Aoki of IEC Group (Japan), Nalani Jenkins of the Hawaiian vocal trio Na Leo Pilimehana, Eric Takahata of Hawaii Tourism Japan, and Glenn Furuya of Leadership Works.

Insights revealed include the long-standing mutual respect between our island nations and similar values of humility, respect, and collaboration. The Shaka gesture also serves as a perfect metaphor with the thumb and pinkie symbolizing two countries with a bride in between. Throwing the Shaka in itself diffuses anger and brings childlike joy, and through the storytelling aspect of the film, we can transcend barriers and unify people.

The Shaka Pledge

The third session held on October 5, focused on “Malama Tourism” and imparting the virtues and values of the aloha spirit on both visitors and locals alike. The panel was moderated by Steve Sue and attended by Matt Grauso of Alohilani Hotel, Denise Yamaguchi of the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival/Hawaii Agriculture Foundation, Henry and Lezlee Kapono, John Sereni of Travel2Change, and Vicky Cayetano of United Laundry/current gubernatorial candidate.

The panelists agreed that tourism will always be Hawaiʻi’s #1 industry, but we can redefine what it looks like. It’s important to consistently portray authentic island stories to educate visitors prior to their arrival. The idea of the “Shaka Pledge” movement was also born from this session. The concept is that businesses and individuals would sign a pledge to uphold the values of the Shaka and receive a decal to display. We absolutely love this idea and are currently working on implementing this program.

Be Brave, Take Risks

The latest session we held on October 19, was on educating keiki with Shaka virtues and values. This panel was moderated by First Lady Dawn Ige and attended by Darrel Galera of the Hawaii Center for Instructional Leadership, Edison Chong of the Hawaiʻi Academies Consortium of Schools, Gerald Teramae of Island Pacific Academy, Allicyn Tasaka of the Workforce Development Council, Ian Kitajima of Oceanit, Mark Loughridge of Punahou’s Case Center for Entrepreneurship, and Henry and Lezlee Kapono.

During the session, it was noted that there seems to be a lack of identity for Hawaiʻi public schools, instead having been defined by national policy. Therefore if we could localize education, it would create a sense of ownership and pride. Also what is currently missing in education as a whole is engagement and relevancy. Shaka, as applied to education, could mean being brave, taking risks, and serving others. One solution mentioned was our companion Shaka Curriculum which provides an entrepreneurship experience for students using design-thinking applied to Shaka themes in creating sellable products.

Shaka, the Movement

The intention of our Shaka Summit was to think forward how to elevate our documentary and leverage the Shaka gesture to make Hawaiʻi and the world beyond a better place. To date, it has been a tremendous success, yielding many insightful revelations and new ideas. We look forward to the remaining sessions on “Building Hawaiʻi Businesses & Brands” and “Aloha ʻAina Ecology” to further shape the exciting movement that is developing. Be sure to check out our Shaka Summit page and on our Shaka YouTube channel for the highlight video of the entire series.