An important part of my position as Volunteer Program Assistant is attending cultural events as a form of community outreach. This past week I attended the South Seattle Community College’s Kava Ceremony. Having never been to a Kava ceremony before, this was certainly a new experience for me!
The Kava ceremony holds a special place in the Pacific Islander community. The ceremony strengthens the relation and ties of the people to their community and vice versa. Given how much the Pacific Islander community has migrated over the years, this ceremony is especially essential to keeping the cultural value of reciprocity alive.
Individuals participating in the ceremony sit in a circle, thus representing the separate Pacific Islands. The Kava bowl represents the home base and is the source of knowledge. An orator calls the names of the esteemed guests and a server presents these guests with a cup of Kava. This depicts the journey of that knowledge to reach the island. When the Kava cup is placed in the hand of the guest, there is a charge given by the orator. This is a charge of stewardship to the land and its people.
Watching this ceremony and getting the chance to talk to the community members drove home the ACRS’s emphasis on community. That volunteerism for and amongst the refugee/immigrant community cannot ignore the rich cultural traditions of those we serve. Attending this cultural event has shown me that my service to the ACRS Volunteer Program is more than administrative work. During the upcoming year, connecting the idea of community and culture to volunteers will be essential.