HAWAIIAN 9.0: ALOHA. E MĀLAMA PONO

There’s one thing about goodbyes: rarely are they easy. It is rather hard to say farewell to someone or something that has been a huge and important part of your life. You feel sad, abandoned, lonely, because you just know it is the end. Over the years, I’ve had my share of difficult goodbyes. One of the toughest took place on April, 3rd. On that day I had to say aloha to “Hawaii Five-0”.

Funny, right? How can this be hard? Saying goodbye to a TV show? Really? Yes, really. Believe me, it can be hard. If you are a fan who has seen every single episode of your favourite series, you will surely understand what I’m talking about. If you are not, you will probably think I’m crazy.

I will be honest with you – I have seen all 240 episodes of “Hawaii Five-0”. I know exactly what happened in each of the seasons – I remember the very first scene (and the very last, for that matter), I can put a name to (almost) all the characters, I even know some of the dialogues by heart. I grew extremely fond of the show’s ‘ohana, and for all ten seasons I could be rest assured that I would have a smile on my face watching Steve and Danno having yet another cargument or Kamekona trying to promote one of his many businesses.

But the fact that I enjoyed the show is not the sole reason why I’m going to miss it terribly. Let me tell you my secret – “Hawaii Five-0” was my first teacher of the Hawaiian language.

Yes, it’s true. Long before I embarked on my adventure – and long before I found Duolingo – I had learnt quite a few things while watching the production. This may come as a surprise, but films and tv shows are an excellent teaching and learning tool. First and foremost, they provide authentic language; language that’s used by real people in real-life situations. All those texts and dialogues we have in our textbooks are fantastic, but we all know that they are designed for learning purposes only and therefore sometimes lack … that something, the je ne sais quoi. Movies – on the other hand – provide us with a story. What is more, they provide us with images to go along with that story, which a) enhances our understanding of words as well as grammar and b) makes the act of learning fun and enjoyable.

Now, you may ask what exactly I managed to learn watching “Hawaii Five-0”. Well, for starters, I found out what the word “‘ohana” really means and why it is so important in the Hawaiian language (and culture). I learnt that even though “haole” is a term used to describe a foreigner or a white person, you can be a “local haole”, which basically means that you are of European ancestry but born and raised in the islands (Steve McGarrett is a local haole). I also got to know – from Steve’s very first conversation with Kamekona – the word for money – “kālā”. Kono, Chin, and Danno taught me a bit about “heiau” (an ancient Hawaiian temple) and explained to me who “kahu” is (a priest, a keeper, a guardian). Of course, I don’t have to tell you about all the basics, like “Aloha”, “Mahalo”, “Mele Kalikimaka”, “A hui hou”, “Mālama pono”. They will stay with me forever. I will forever remember not only the words and phrases but also the scenes in which they appeared. I will remember how they were pronounced; and what their meaning is. I will remember how they relate to the local culture. I will remember because “Hawaii Five-0” was a fantastic teacher. And, as it usually is with fantastic teachers, you are always sad to see them go.

So it is only right to say “Thank you”. Or rather “Mahalo”. Mahalo, Hawaii Five-0, for giving me much more than pure entertainment. Mahalo for teaching me for ten long but very short years. Mahalo for showing the world how amazing the Aloha State is; mahalo for unravelling its beauty; mahalo for putting its culture and language in the spotlight. Mahalo for everything. E mālama pono.


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