Thanksgiving in Honolulu with Kubasaki alumni

Thanksgiving dinners in northern California, on the airplane, and in Honolulu and a surprise ending: a high school reunion.


alternative title: Thanksgiving Day Feast in Honolulu with Hawaii Dragons

How many people get to celebrate Thanksgiving three times in a 24 hour period? We did.

Warning: this blog post is not about music or concerts. It’s about food, travel, and high school reunions.

On Wednesday, 24th November 2010, our scientist friends Rachel and Jeff cooked a late afternoon Thanksgiving dinner for us in northern California. The next morning we boarded Hawaiian Airlines and consumed a turkey lunch on the 4 hour 44 minute flight to Honolulu. When we deplaned just after 12 noon for the 8 hour deliberate layover in Honolulu, we never expected to be treated to a feast and a high school reunion.

Three years ago, Rinsei met us at the Honolulu airport on our way from Maui to Houston. It was the first time we met after a lengthy correspondence. He was the Welcome Committee of the Hawaii Dragons, the graduates of Kubasaki High School who left Okinawa and moved to Hawaii. I learned that he was instrumental in finding and recruiting Kubasaki alumni. The Hawaii Dragons meet on the first Wednesday of every month.

Rinsei introduced us to Irene, who started cooking the day before. The 28-pound turkey with stuffing, ham, purple Okinawan potato, sweet potato casserole with tiny marshmallows on top, edamame vegetables, and other delights too numerous to mention overfilled her kitchen and dining table. One oven was not enough. Luckily her neighbour was away.

Two Kubasaki graduates, Robert H and Eddie, waved to us from the balcony of Irene’s home. Later, Mike P. joined us.

“All of you graduated from Kubasaki?” I exclaimed. What a coincidence!

“Why do you think we invited you here?” Rinsei had coordinated this mini-reunion obviously.

It was the beginning of an afternoon of discoveries. Robert H, Eddie, Irene, Mike, and Rinsei were big on reunions. They claimed that the reunions they planned were better than any other. They went on to describe and show me by way of photos and DVD videos.

I had three excuses for not attending high school reunions.

  1. So far, the reunions planned by my class or including my class always took place in the summer time when I was reluctant to leave Europe for the USA [after waiting a long cold winter for better weather, how could I possibly leave?]
  2. I didn’t think of attending reunions of other class years because I wouldn’t know anyone.
  3. I wanted to wait until I was “ready” as I imagined reunions to be a game of comparison and competition, i.e. how people turned out.

Robert H proved me wrong.

  1. The reunions are worth it. They are so much fun. Even non-Kubasaki graduates love them and attend year after year.
  2. It doesn’t matter which year you graduated. It’s the shared experience of having gone to the same high school that matters. [We were all third culture kids.]
  3. It’s not about who wins or how successful you are. It’s about a sharing of a journey and a common past.

Kubasaki High School was born in 1946 with just 25 students on the island of Okinawa. It graduated its first class in 1947. It suddenly dawned on me that I would be meeting more high school graduates in the Hawaiian Islands than anywhere else I’ve lived since I left Okinawa.

with Dr Ward at Kubasaki High School in 1999
with Dr Ward at Kubasaki High School in 1999

Author: BLOGmaiden

As one of the earliest bloggers (since 1999), I enjoy meeting people who embrace "out-of-the-box" thinking and fear not the unknown. I believe in collaboration for sustainability because it increases stakeholder value.

10 thoughts on “Thanksgiving in Honolulu with Kubasaki alumni”

  1. I did a small reunion, too, for the very first time, just a few weeks ago! Nothing really special, well, yes it was!! An experience like no other, before. I knew no one that was to be at the gathering other than the facebook connections and the occasional comment and post I’ve read. I’ll say, it took that to explain to me why I look back at those years in high school, on that magical little island with such fondness. The warmth of the people and the near automatic acceptance into the group were unmistakable. That’s a feeling I haven’t had since living on Okinawa, and one that I do need to feel, again.

  2. You summed up the hard-to-understand-unless-you’ve-been-there reasons that the KHS alumni continue to create opportunities to get together perfectly!

    You were also fortunate to meet Rinsei; he is a true Kubasaki ambassador and a dear, dear man who never ceases to amaze me. His devotion to our “family” of alumni is endearing and it embraces everyone he meets. I am so glad you shared Thanksgiving together and were so warmly welcomed by Irene and fellow alumni. It’s pretty special.

    I’m sure it must have seemed odd that I showed up after your performance when you were in Durham, but that’s what we do! I couldn’t pass on the opportunity to meet someone I only knew through blogs and posts but shared a common past. Once you catch the bug, it’s infectious.

    Warmest wishes to you as you continue your journeys!

    — Sherry

  3. I also had a mini reunion at my house in May of 2011. People I had never met before except on Face Book came and we had a wonderful time. If you are a Dragon from any year, do not miss an opportunity to meet with fellow Dragons no matter what year they are from… It will be worth you while!!!

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