Poi Day has become a day that I appreciate and look forward to every week. I never imagined waking up before 5 in the morning every Thursday would be something that I would anticipate. Poi Day is a day where people from all across the island gather in the journey of the kalo plant into poi, a staple food that is served with almost every dish. Culminating in a delicious feast, usually featuring fish, rice, vegetables, and stews.
Working at Waipa, I am able to see the kalo from the moment it’s planted in the ground to when we eat the poi after the morning’s preparation. Poi Day begins with us setting up the stations where people can wash, peel, and cut the kalo. This time is a moment for community. We all work together to see the kalo transform. Lulling in the background is traditional Hawaiian music that passes a sense of tranquility throughout the room. Each Poi Day, there is an opportunity to cross paths with someone you never met before. This is, by far, my favorite part of the experience. As we gather in our stations and for a break for breakfast, I have been able to learn so much about the island and some of the people who know it as home.
This past Poi Day fell on the 4th of July. Since this is a day where people are often off from work, there were many new faces. One, in particular, was this Fijian woman who has live in Kauai for the past two decades and never has been able to attend Poi Day. She works in the Child Protective Services in Lihue and spoke much about her work and her experiences living in Kauai. We both spoke of family and immigration, a story that we both held common. The hours of Poi preparation passed quickly with engaging conversation as more people joined in and introduced themselves. These kalo plant was passed through its various stages with these sort of conversations moving through the room. In the end, we sat together to enjoy the meal not as strangers but as people who eagerly wanted to learn more about those around them.