A fellow classmate was describing to me his life back at home in a small village on the island of Tonga. He described his village as a place where, “everyone knows everybody.” This tight knit community has no neighbors; everyone is considered family. Everyday, they go out to catch fresh fish to eat for their next meal. Family gatherings are a staple in his community and a celebration is not complete without cultural dances, music, lots of food and of course, lots of fish.
These are the types of stories I get to hear everyday as a student at BYU-Hawaii, majoring in Business Management, emphasizing in Hospitality and Tourism. I chose this university in the middle of the Pacific Ocean because of their unique Hospitality and Tourism program, which offers great first-hand experience in a place that relies heavily on the industry.
Coming here, I knew that the campus had a diverse pool of students because of its Pacific centered location. However, I did not realize that BYU-Hawaii is one of the most diverse college campuses in the nation, with over 70 countries represented. I’ve met and made friends with people like Kiwi and Toshi from Japan, Lu from Fiji, Kaylee from Utah, Lima from Samoa, Liv from Washington, Roche from Qatar, and many more. Each day I’m privileged to interact with people from many different cultures.
No matter how different we may be, we can always find something in common that we share, or learn something new about each other. Through my experiences, I have gained an even greater sense of gratitude and pride in my home state of California.
As individuals share their stories with me, I also share my own. “My name is Nikki Holbrook. I am from Sacramento, California. I have lived there my whole life.” It’s always entertaining to see people’s reactions when I tell them about California. The looks of awe I receive when I explain the cultural and geographical diversity of our state. Explaining how, yes, we do have beaches, but we also have beautiful snow-capped mountain ranges, deserts, world-renowned architecture, and everything else that we may grow! (#WeGrowBeauty)
I so thankful to be a part of the Miss California Organization and to possibly have the opportunity to represent one of the most diverse states in the nation. Growing up in California, and having these experiences at BYU-Hawaii, have expanded my appreciation for all people and makes me proud to call California home.
Thank you for letting me share,
Miss Barbary Coast 2018
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