In Attire
Relationship: Child of im/migrant
Blue candy lei made with KitKats
Blue candy lei made with KitKats

Bold and vibrant - the lei is an essential part of Hawaiian culture. When tourists visit the island, they are gifted a flower lei as a native welcome. When students complete any graduation of school, they are given a lei made of ribbon, money, or candy. The elation my sister felt receiving her lei made out of carefully folded one-dollar bills at her high school graduation attests to the respect that tradition holds. When I graduate high school and grow, I too will be given a lei that is embedded with pride in its vivid ribbons. My parents, though on different paths, traveled the same journey. From the Philippines to Hawaii, and Hawaii to Las Vegas, the lei is a form of emotional expression that they've taken with them in every place that they resided in. In my family, the lei coveys the feelings that are often kept unsaid. A “congratulations” or an “I’m proud of you” was rarely heard from our parents because verbalizing any form of affection came unnatural to them. Instead, they found comfort in creating their precisely made leis to replace these phrases. Regardless of the material that it’s made of, every lei holds the same meaning; to honor its recipient and celebrate their achievements. Even if the lack of physical affection came as a result of my grandparents’ parenting, my parents have learned to express their pride and congratulations in other ways, with the lei being one of many. My family may not know how to express their feelings in a way that other families would, but that's what makes them unique; their ability to express their feelings with handmade sentiments. 

Place(s): Philippines, Hawaii, Las Vegas
Year: 2006

– Danika Molina

Relationship:  Child of im/migrant Child of im/migrant