KS CEO Jack Wong and students from Kamehameha community partners Project Kuleana and Ke Ea Hawaiʻi traveled to Washington, D.C. this week to bring the celebration of “Ke Au Hawaiʻi – The Year of the Hawaiian” to our nation’s capital. While in D.C., Wong accepted the esteemed Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies Community Leadership Award for his efforts to build a future of continued growth, impact and political representation for the Asian American and Pacific Islander community – specifically, Native Hawaiians.
Contributed by Elizabeth Ahana
The celebration of “Ke Au Hawaiʻi – The Year of the Hawaiian” sailed across the nation as Kamehameha Schools CEO Jack Wong traveled to Washington, D.C. this week. Wong was accompanied by students from Kamehameha community partners Project Kuleana and Ke Ea Hawaiʻi.
While in Washington, D.C., the group visited lawmakers, and attended events including the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS) 24th Annual Gala, a prestigious celebration of Asian Pacific Heritage Month.
The APAICS Annual Gala, which honors Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) leaders and recognizes outstanding individuals and organizations that politically empower the AAPI community, draws over 1000 attendees including community leaders, business leaders and the largest gathering of AAPI local, state and federal elected officials and appointees.
This year, Wong was selected to receive the esteemed APAICS Community Leadership Award for his dedication, advocacy, and efforts to build a future of continued growth, impact and political representation for the AAPI community – specifically, Native Hawaiians.
During his acceptance speech, Wong took a moment to address the students in the room directly. “We know as Hawaiians you belong on the biggest stage – you have the competitive advantage like no other. And when you understand you can be Hawaiian again, you can lead as a Hawaiian, and not have to overcome being a Hawaiian, that’s when we know our nation will thrive.”
With a vision to see a thriving lāhui (people) by 2040, KS' priorities during this critical year underscores the importance of early learning, supporting culture-based educational practices and principles and empowering local communities to improve the social determinants of health and well-being.
The Year of The Hawaiian advances local and national understanding of the value of Native Hawaiian practices, recognizes Native Hawaiian culture and traditions and supports the perpetuation, restoration and revitalization of Native Hawaiian language. It occurred after the passage of Senate Resolution 74, requesting the official designation, and commemorates several important dates in Hawaiʻi’s history.