We really wanted to take our kids to the Polynesian Cultural Center. We often skip major tourist attractions and spend our time instead at local markets, community events, and daily living activities. The Polynesian Cultural Center kept coming up in conversation and we knew we had to find a way to make it a reality. After 10 hours immersed in the various cultures that make up Polynesia, I can tell you, it was worth it.
There are a few places we have visited where the partnership between the town and businesses have left life long impressions. One of those partnerships was Lego and the town of Billund, Denmark. Another was the Crazy Horse Memorial in South Dakota and its vision and partnership with many Native American Tribes. This week we felt it again during our time at the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC).
As we ventured through interactive experiences in Tonga, Tahiti, Fiji, Samoa, Aotearoa, Hawaii, and Marquesas, we knew we were not audience members watching a performance, we were participants in a thriving community. Sixty to seventy percent of the employees at The Polynesian Cultural Center are students at neighboring Brigham Young University (BYU). It is a diverse, international student body who enriches their understanding of various cultures during an intensive study accessible through their work at PCC. Students learn about their heritage and roots in order to better serve their communities. There is a teacher/student dynamic in some of the demonstrations that makes it subtlety clear that these incredibly talented students feel supported, nurtured, and challenged in all the right ways. Students taught our children ukulele, hula, lei making, basket weaving and spear throwing with humor and grace. They danced and sang and we could not help but celebrate with them, not because we share their culture, but because we share their desire to learn by jumping in with both feet every day.
It seems that when these partnerships can be felt by those who are just passing through, something greater is happening than just what is being taught. We noticed a shared vision in Billund, South Dakota, and Laie as well as many other places we have visited. The vision is greater than the current population, business plan, or community outreach. All of those things are present but the vision transcends today, tomorrow, even this generation and it serves something much greater. It benefits those now involved but only because of its unwavering focus on the greater good. There is clarity in the values of the town and the business, and they are shared or complimentary in every way. I always leave these experiences wanting to be even clearer about my vision and intentions, only acting in ways that match my values. These towns and their partnerships make me want to strive and that is worth the price of admission!
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