BYU–Hawaii students said living in Laie has taught them to be more independent and to appreciate the small things. By being a part of the strong Laie community, they also said they feel they are a part of something bigger than themselves.
Joana Chibota, a senior from Zimbabwe majoring in biology, said she felt Laie wasn’t much different than what she experienced back home. However, learning to accept people’s kindness was something she had to get used to, she clarified. “It’s culture shock, but in a good way.”
She explained she had to get used to the idea of people being kind, giving her gifts or food without expecting anything else in return. Chibota said the kindness she felt from people on campus and in the community made her feel welcome.
Chibota asserted, “I have learned how to be on top of issues that I have. I’ve learned to be more independent and self-reliant.” She said she strives to take charge of her life through the kindness that she feels from others.
Sierra Gunnell, a freshman from Utah majoring in exercise and sport science, said what is most noticeably different in Laie than back home is the lack of competition and the need to be better than everyone around you. She said Laie is more focused on the people in the community, rather than what the community has.
She said, “[In Utah], everyone cares about how big their house is or how fancy their car is. But [in Laie], it is such a simple life.” Gunnell said she appreciates the residents of Laie who don’t get caught up in comparisons or competitions.
“Everyone [in Laie] is doing their own thing, and no one else is worried about what others are doing that much. Everyone has their own life and their own struggles, but residents’ happiness doesn’t come from material things,” she noted.
Kelly Beazer, a sophomore from Arizona majoring in psychology, said she has learned to be more giving with the people around her and has learned to share what she has. She explained, “People here are so inviting and there isn’t competition between people.”
Beazer said she had to get used to being invited to activities with people she just met which, she said, made her to feel like part of a family despite being far away from home.
Raised in a town with little racial diversity, Beazer said it was refreshing coming into a community with people from many different countries and cultures.
She said respecting and learning about other cultures is a better way to get to know someone. Observing others and learning about their language and customs by asking questions and being involved is crucial in understanding people within the community, she added.
Ashley Howell, a senior from California majoring in biomedicine, said being a part of the Laie community has shown her communities can come together and be one big family.
Growing up, Howell said she didn’t have a community that emphasized unity and togetherness. She said, “I’ve never been a part of something that is so focused on people and a community that really comes together to help and provide for others.”
She added, “When I got home, I realized how much I appreciate a community like Laie, simply because it’s so unified, either from the Church or just the feeling of aloha.” She explained being a part of the Laie community and going to school at BYUH makes her feel like she is a part of something bigger than herself.