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My Island Birthland This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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Standing on the slopes of an active volcano, looking for birds hidden in forest trees, staring down at a thundering waterfall – these are just some of the things I've done in Hawaii, the land of my birth and one of my favorite places on earth.

The weather is fabulous, with pleasant temperatures year round, plenty of sunshine, and the perfect amount of rainfall to keep the islands fresh and green. This ideal combination of sun and rain produces many rainbows that arch across the blue sky.

My family loves to drive around the islands when we have free time and enjoy the natural surroundings. One of my favorite things to do is gaze over the ocean at the multiple lookouts along the coasts. The wind whips my hair and the smell of salt permeates my nostrils as I stand looking out over the vast, sparkling Pacific Ocean.

Hawaii is full of wildlife. You may see a mongoose running across the road, nene (Hawaiian goose) roaming the grassy areas of a national park, or a small Java sparrow hopping with its friends across a lawn. Almost every time my family visits, we see Hawaiian monk seals lying on the sandy beaches, sunning themselves. Tourists try to crowd around, snapping close-up pictures of these endangered animals, but lifeguards protect them by surrounding them with a string fence. I have seen turtles bobbing in the ocean near the shore, and once I even saw migrating humpback whales in the distance as they raised their blowholes to breathe.

Though experiencing nature is one of the highlights of visiting Hawaii, it is definitely not the only enjoyable activity. My family and I always have a great time visiting our many island friends. Sometimes we meet them on the beach, where we have potluck suppers on the grass bordering the sand. We consume our food as the sun slowly sets, enjoying hot dogs and potato salad under the backdrop of Pacific scenery.

We eat with a great variety of people. Some are Caucasians who have moved to Hawaii from the mainland; others are Caucasians who grew up on one of the islands. Many others are Japanese, Chinese, or Korean. Still others are a mix of Caucasian and Asian ancestry. Regardless of their ethnicity, all our friends share the same blended local culture that has developed from years of Asians, Caucasians, and Polynesians interacting on this island chain.

The smiling, carefree attitudes of the people and the aloha spirit they show is what I notice the most. Aloha is a Hawaiian word meaning love, and it is used as a greeting, clearly reflecting the locals' friendly, welcoming nature.

At these potlucks, we enjoy playing in the sand and the ocean before and after eating. Who wouldn't want to, after all? The sparkling blue of the ocean, the sound of crashing waves, the fresh, salty smell carried on the cool ocean breeze – they are irresistible. Sometimes we swim, sometimes we search for seashells, sometimes we make sand castles, and sometimes we just sit on the beach enjoying the gorgeous surroundings.

One of the most pleasurable beach experiences I've had was learning to paddleboard. While I was paddleboarding, I saw a sea turtle up close as it bobbed up and down in the swells of the ocean.

Every time I visit Hawaii, I have different experiences, but each trip contains beautiful scenery, mild weather, and abundant wildlife. The island residents all display the aloha spirit in their actions and speech. This is why I love my island birthland and am proud of my relationship with this tropical paradise.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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butterflew said...
Feb. 26 at 3:46 pm:
Very nice article :) Which island are you from?
 
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