About penkeo56

I am originally from Hawai'i, however, I knew that I was meant for something much bigger than what my island could offer me. Volleyball is my all time favorite sport. I love to travel, hike, and hangout with friends.

My Eportfolio Essay

My initial learning goals were to incorporate what I have learned into my life, educate others on popular culture, develop confidence in what I am saying, and also not to be afraid of speaking up. Throughout the course, I have accomplished just that. These goals would not be possible to reach if it weren’t for a strong mindset, which is my primary strength that I saw in myself.

When it comes to online courses, many people slack off, however I did not. My mindset was simple. As long as I knew the direction in which I wanted to go, I had the motivation and determination to succeed in this course. The other strengths that I saw in myself throughout the term, is being eager to learn and being an effective communicator, which is proven by my blog comments. In response to another student, I stated:

“I agree with you on both prompts. After reading the essay, it came as a complete shock to me that the distinction between “us” and “them” even exists. Not only that, but how much of an impact the media really has on society in defining others. I never realized that it is a bit difficult to have an open mind when this binary tunnel vision of other cultures is engraved into our brains from the beginning. After the 9/11 attack, I saw all Muslims as “the enemy”, in which the media had a powerful influence on my assumption. When I flew on an airplane and saw a guy with a head wrap, I feared for my life because I thought that he was going to hijack the plane. However, I do not see all Muslims as “the enemy” anymore. That being said, intercultural education should be combined with media literacy. The consumption of media allows us to access information that we aren’t able to get on our own. However, the negative part is that the media decides what to share and what to hide from their audience. Whether we know it or not, the media plays a major role in how we view our society.

Secondly, I agree that Asians are a group of people that I’ve seen represented in a similar or one-dimensional way over and over in popular culture media. The most common stereotype with Asians have to deal with the parents. If you are Asian or someone you know is Asian, people assume that your parents are strict. People assume that Asian parents are never proud of their children. For instance, an Asian person could earn his Bachelor’s degree and his/her parent’s will not be satisfied because they could have gotten their PhD. It is portrayed that Asian parents have such high expectations for their children, when in reality this is not true. Personally speaking, I am Asian and my parents do not even know the name of the college that I am attending, nor do they care what kind of grades I am earning.”

I chose this blog comment because not only does it prove my eagerness to learn but it also proves how respectful I am to others, which is very important in communication. When it comes to reading other’s work, I am respectful with my words. I do not reply back to them with just a sentence. I fully give them my thoughts, questions, and ideas regarding their work, which in turn, will help us both. I state why I agree and disagree. In my opinion, communication is important in all aspects of life.

Moreover, although I did not see any challenges throughout the term, being a student, there was an area that I needed room for improvement on. Before this course, as a student, I felt that I was not an active participant in my education. Not only would I be silent when I strongly disagreed with something in a class debate, but I was also silent in previous mentor sessions. However, due to this course, I am a changed person, as I am now an active and engaging student in my education. To substantiate this, take my blog post about the influence of advertising.

“Prompt: How aware are you of the difference between content and ads when you are using the Internet?

In my eyes, content and ads are like words versus pictures, however, I came to realize that I am not aware of the impact that difference can have on an individual. The internet is a globalized machine that not only allows people from everywhere around the world to connect but it is also so common that you don’t really think anything of it. AT first, I thought there was a distinct difference between content and ads. Content was the information expressed through a medium. This could be the words you read in a book or even the words that a person said. On the other hand, ads were the pictures that you saw on a billboard or in a magazine. Ads were the unwanted; they were the pop ups that you had to block or the 15 second video you chose to skip. However, as time progressed, they began to overlap. While viewing content on the internet, more often than not, there are ads on the side. Take Facebook for example. Facebook is a social media site that allows you to connect with your friends, you can see the photos that they post, you can see where they are at, you can see how they are feeling or what is on their mind. However, on the right side column of the Facebook site, there are ads with a headline, photo, and caption. In other words, I am using a medium to consume information about my friends, yet, this medium is trying to persuade me to take a further look into their brand or product. In addition, Facebook hires people to track your interests, and from that, they show only ads that are specifically for you. For example, these research analysts would see that dogs interests me because I would watch dog videos on Facebook, and after that, I would see dog ads on the right side of my Facebook. Moreover, facebook is not the only site that allows ads to influence their content, there is also news websites, dating websites, social media websites. In my opinion, this makes me question what the real message is. What these networks are allowing says a lot about their values. I, like many people, don’t want to read an article and have these incessant ads disrupting the content. Let’s be honest, you would much rather choose a picture with a few words than a paper with only words. Although pictures are more appealing to the eyes than words, at the end of the day, words mean so much more.

Prompt: Do you think advertisements contribute anything of value to our culture? What ads? In what ways?

I think advertisements are more harmful than it is helpful to our culture. Yes we are a capitalistic society which means that producing and distributing good and services is crucial but it seems individuals are uninformed of the power that they hold. We, as consumers, have the power. Advertisements are putting ideas and images in your head, however, you can either accept it or reject it. We, as consumers, may not know it, but every time that we purchase a good or service from a certain company, we are making a statement. We should be asking questions like, what statement does their merchandise make and how does it reflect upon me? Who am I supporting with my purchase? What cause does the company support? Urban outfitters is a perfect example of consumer purchasing power. Urban Outfitters has had a bad rep, from horrible working qualities, to offensive products. Because of that, I choose to not buy their products. My silence is the power. Imagine if people stopped shopping at Urban Outfitters, this would make Urban Outfitters think twice about their values. Not only would they improve working qualities for their factory workers, but they would discontinue offensive products. In fact, they discontinued shirts that had words like “Eat Less” and “Depression” not because people stopped buying it, but because there were many critics. Furthermore, I feel that majority of advertisements depends on external factors for validation. In other words, there is such a materialistic connotation with advertisements. Ads create this ideology of what is normal. Enhancing our looks is a constant message shown through ads. In short, it is all about what we look like, and the ads shown below substantiate this claim.


You’ve got Katy Perry basically saying that you can eat potato chips without putting on weight.


You’ve got an Estee Lauder model with eyeliner, eyeshadow, foundation, blush, lipstick, and nail polish.


In addition, the “Beyond Natural” Jessica Alba is anything but natural due to makeup caked on her.


To put the icing on the cake, you’ve got Victoria Secret models in lingerie stating in bold letters that skinny is the “perfect body”.

Overall, when I think of ads, I don’t think of promoting environmental sustainability or charity foundations; values that hold true importance. Moreover, there is a strong correlation of physical appearance and advertisements, which should not be the case. All in all, if we not only took the time to analyze an ad, but more importantly, take the time to question our purchases, that is the value advertising can contribute to.”

Although it might have been much to read, this blog post goes to show how much I have improved as a Student. Not only do I put time into my education, but the effort that I have put into this course is evident from my blog posts.

Overall, the knowledge and skills that I have obtained during this course is something that I will apply from here on out, as it has, and will continue, to benefit me. The most important takeaway for me is how to critically analyze the news. Take for example, my analysis of a news article.

“The article, “Afghanistan Kidnappings: Two Foreigners Missing From Aid Team” include many sources. First, Mustafa Andalib, the reporter. Next, Rob Taylor, the writer. Lastly, Michael Perry, the editor. In my eyes, these sources played a major part in the article, setting the tone for the paper. For starters, the sources are bashing high officials. To elaborate, the article includes this, “Rumours of the abduction of a man and a woman by either insurgents or criminal gangs have circulated for several days, but U.S. and Canadian diplomats said they were unaware of anyone reported missing”. This is crucial because they are basically pointing fingers saying that U.S. and Canadian Diplomats are not doing anything about this issue. To further emphasize this negative perspective, the article includes this “Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs said it was looking into the reports, but gave no confirmation of a missing citizen”. Also including one that hits home, “A U.S. embassy spokesman in Kabul late on Friday said there was no information on a missing American, but diplomatic officials are often reluctant to talk about kidnappings in hope it could smooth the way for negotiations on a release”. These only go to show the hostility towards those high officials who were in charge of the investigation, continuing to point fingers at them.

Furthermore, not only do they bash high officials but as you read you can visibly see the bias of this coverage, substantiating that there is no such thing as objective reporting due to loaded language. In the article, they use terms such as insurgents, criminal gangs, gunmen, abduction, and volatile. These terms speak for itself, they all have negative connotations to them. For instance, insurgent is saying that they are insubordinate or disobedient, when they could have used a term that has a less negative connotation such as “rebel”. All in all, diction matters, and by the choice of words they used, this proves that reporters bring their own biases and views into the story.

Moreover, I think the article in general lacked a lot of information that caused confusion for readers. However, based on tone and diction, poor participation of high officials was their justification for lack of information. Also, lack of information made me question if this was a personal matter, rather than professional. The article bashed high officials more than they talked about the information of the two missing foreigners. For starters, what was the name of these two missing foreigners? How old were they? What was the primary purpose of the trip? All in all, reporters could have included reporter chooses what to include, what not to include, and who they get their information from. Because of this, it makes me question what the true message they want readers to take away.”

The news definitely impacts an individual’s perspectives and actions, and learning how to critically analyze the news, benefits me greatly. I ask questions such as, who are the sources and what are their perspectives? Are significant questions left unasked or unanswered? Do quotes seem abridged or out of context? Are exaggerated or rhetorical claims reported uncritically without journalistic scrutiny? By asking these analysis questions, I am at a greater advantage because I will not fall victim to being misled by the news. 


The Portrayal of A Hawaiian: What You See, Is Not All That There Is

Do you surf or play the ukulele? Do you speak pidgin or dance hula? I am sure many of you can guess what I am talking about. As soon as I tell someone that I am from Hawai’i, these are the kinds of questions that I receive. From the time I was a little girl, Hawaiians have been stereotyped as a laid back person who likes to surf, play the ukulele, speak pidgin, and exhibit violence. Popular culture has also glorified a Hawaiian to experience this “paradise living” due to the nature of it’s geographical location. Little do we know, popular culture’s influence of this stereotypical view of a Hawaiian plays a critical role in a Hawaiian’s life.

Why did you move from Hawaii to Oregon? Many people have asked me this without ever going to Hawai’i. Due to popular culture, paradise living is the epitome of a Hawaiian. Many people think about a perfect island, where the weather is always sunny and the water is always warm. Many assume that if you are a Hawaiian, you are living on an island without a care in the world, hence, “paradise living”. On the other hand, perfect weather and perfect life, is not necessarily the case for a Hawaiian. Everyone is a potential victim in the exposure of this stereotype, however, they have a choice whether to accept or refute this stereotypical view of a Hawaiian.


To begin, as shown above, the movie Lilo & Stitch made by Walt Disney is what brainwashed people of this Hawaiian stereotype the most. This movie was targeted for families with young children. The first time that I watched this movie, my main takeaway was “Ohana means family and family means that no one gets left behind or forgotten.” I perceived the main message of this movie as this, no matter what happens, you stick together because family is the most important foundation, but after watching it a second time, I noticed certain details that has offended my identity.

First, it is portrayed that if you are a Hawaiian, it is in your blood to surf. In this movie, there is a strong correlation of a Hawaiian and surfing. I understand that having the beach in your backyard increases the probability of a Hawaiian to surf, However, I am a born and raised Hawaiian who has never even laid a foot on a surfboard. What I am trying to get at is that not all Hawaiians are surfers. Although I wanted to learn how to surf, it was never a top priority for me. When people ask me if I surf when I tell them I am from Hawaii and I reply no, I experience discrimination. It’s as if I have to prove to people that I am a Hawaiian just because I have never surfed in my life. Due to this stereotype, it seems that if you do not surf you are not a Hawaiian, even though my blood states otherwise.

Second, the ukulele is another detail that occurs frequently. In the beginning of the movie, the first time that Lilo, the little girl, met Stitch, the alien, she teaches Stitch to play the ukulele, as if playing the ukulele is what makes you a Hawaiian. Do you play the ukulele? This is a common question that I am asked when I tell someone that I am a Hawaiian. Being a Hawaiian, the ukulele is a cultural instrument. Throughout my years of growing up in Hawaii, my island incorporated Hawaiian culture with education which was interesting because the ukulele was not originated in Hawaii. The “ukulele” is a musical instrument that originally came from Portuguese immigrants. Therefore, it is very interesting how the ukulele is strongly correlated to a Hawaiian in Lilo and Stitch. Although ukulele classes were not mandatory, I chose to attend the ukulele classes not because I am a Hawaiian, but because it seemed fun. As of right now, I do not play the ukulele, further emphasizing to people that the ukulele is not for all Hawaiians, yet this movie makes the ukulele such a great factor for a Hawaiian.


Furthermore, the TV show Hawaii Five-O, is another factor that has contributed to the portrayal of a Hawaiian. Due to the nature of the geographical location, when living on an island, it is all about paradise living, paradise as in warm weather. In Hawaii Five-O, it is always clear and sunny. There has not been an episode with rain or an overcast weather. This portrayal has contributed to the stereotype of a Hawaiian. Many people tell me things like “if I had weather like that, I would never leave”, when I say that I am from Hawai’i but I live in Oregon now. In all honesty, we do have “bad” days.  There was a time that my island rained for 2 weeks straight. Although the climate is frequently warm, our skies are covered by dark clouds that send pouring showers on the island on some days. The main point that I am getting at, is that Hawaiians do experience bad weather, yet Hawaii Five-O continues to brainwash their audience about Hawaii always being sunny.

In addition to brainwashing their audience, another important aspect in the movie is that with paradise living results in informal language, and pidgin is the perfect example. Pidgin is a type of informal language. It would be saying “hoi” instead of “you”. In Hawaii Five-O, pidgin is incorporated quite often. First, two main characters are foreigners, unaware of this informal language, however, as time progresses they begin to pick up on it, frequently using it whenever they speak. Second, the Hawaiians only speak pidgin in the movie. It seems as if speaking pidgin is a way to fit in when you live on an island. If you speak proper English, you are looked down upon. In my opinion, although pidgin is prevalent on my island, it is not as “cool” as it seems. To elaborate, you are looked down upon if you do not speak pidgin on island, however, I speak proper English on my island. I do not care what others think because when I do speak pidgin, I feel very unintelligent.


Moreover, do not mistaken pidgin for Hawaiian language, as they are two complete opposites. As popular culture has proven, Hawaiian language is an important aspect in the identity of a Hawaiian. To elaborate, take the Merrie Monarch into account. The Merrie Monarch is a weeklong festival in which groups compete by honoring the perpetuation of Hawaii’s traditions, native language and arts. The type of Hawaiian language portrayed in the Merrie Monarch is both verbal and nonverbal. As David Kalakaua asserts “Hula is the language of the heart, therefore, the heartbeat of the Hawaiian people.” This festival allows everyone around the world to access it because the complete festival is recorded live and posted online. Hula is what has always stood out to me. Hula is a Hawaiian tradition, however, some Hawaiians do not dance hula. I am a primary example because even though I am Hawaiian in blood, I have never danced hula in my life. Hula is a beautiful story spoken from the body, yet, I feel that I am not graceful so I do not participate. Although hula is a great factor in Hawaiian Tradition, many Hawaiians do not dance hula and that is okay.

Equally important, is the physical appearance in the Merrie Monarch Festival. The picture shown above of a Merrie Monarch group is the perfect example. Coconut bras, puka shell necklaces, and hula skirts are accessories that are commonly shown in the Merrie Monarch Festival, which many people believe to be the typical outfit of a Hawaiian. Personally speaking, I have never worn a coconut bra before. Throughout my upbringing, I wore similar clothes as a foreigner, that is, a t shirt and shorts. Why should the physical appearance define someone’s identity? If that was the case, a foreigner could wear a coconut bra and a hula skirt, and she would be deemed as a Hawaiian. Being a Hawaiian should be more internal than external. Although I did not wear a hula skirt, I am a Hawaiian, yet this secondary source focuses on the ideal physical appearance of a Hawaiian.


With that said, naturally tanned skinned is another aspect of the physical appearance of a Hawaiian. In the movie, Beyond Paradise, the Hawaiians do not have to lay out in the sun, they are born that way. Every Hawaiian character is dark skinned. Based on someone’s skin color, you can tell if a person is a Hawaiian or not. Yes, I can become tan skinned from the sun, but this tan skin does not occur naturally. On the other hand, many would argue that the association of tan skin and Hawaiians is due to the pigment in the Hawaiian, however, I am Hawaiian, yet, I can pass as a foreigner because I am white as paper. strong association with physical appearance and a Hawaiian. From my perspective, the stereotype of a tan skinned Hawaiian came from the belief that a Hawaiian’s geographical location is always sunny, in which stated above, that is not the case.

Besides the idea that a “white Hawaiian” can exist, the lifestyle of a Hawaiian is anything but “paradise living.”, and Beyond Paradise is the artifact used to substantiate this claim. Beyond paradise is a semi-autobiographical film of, the director, David Cunningham’s, experience in Hawaii. This movie is unlike any other because it is the polar opposite of the stereotypical Hawaiian movies that portray the paradise living. The purpose of this movie is to show their audience the interaction between a foreigner and an islander. This movie does not sugar coat anything as do majority of movies about Hawaiians do. Unlike movies that sugar coat the reality of a Hawaiian, Violence occurs frequently in Beyond Paradise. The theme with violence in this movie is about a “kill or be killed” mentality. In the movie, a foreigner moves to the island and is bullied by the Hawaiians. Many of the Hawaiians physically and verbally abuse the foreigner because the Hawaiians do not welcome Haoles. Thus, instead of talking it out, they exhibit violence. As I have I have witnessed firsthand of this type of altercation, this is an accurate depiction of how violent a Hawaiian can be towards a haole. Although I, a Hawaiian, am anything but violent, violence does occur frequently in a Hawaiian’s lifestyle, contributing to refute this “paradise living” that many associate with Hawaiians.


Despite the prevalent view of Hawaiians being violent, some Hawaiians are nonviolent. I have told many of my friends to come with me to my island for a short vacation. However, they reject the invitation because they think that Hawaiians are scary, violent, and dangerous, when in fact some are not.Take for instance, the article, Pure Hawaiian: Beyond the glitz of tourist beaches, locals cling to the spirit of the ocean written by John Lancaster, an author for National Geographic. While Lancaster encountered many experiences with Hawaiians, the thing that stood out to me was when he stated this, “”We got nice people here, but if you treat them bad, they’ll treat you bad.” It wasn’t a threat, just a simple statement of fact. The man who uttered it was sitting on a tree limb that had washed up on the beach. Though well past retirement age, he looked like someone you didn’t want to cross, a thick-chested guy in board shorts, sunglasses, and a black sun visor.” This is important because the author states his assumption. He profiled the man to be someone that you did not want to cross because of what he looked like. More importantly, although Hawaiians are seen as violent, it is because they have to be when they are provoked. Although many Hawaiians are quick to assume when it comes to outsiders, Hawaiians will not initiate the violence. To elaborate, as echoed by the article, I am not mean unless someone makes me that way. For example, as I was minding my own business in the ocean, an outsider started throwing sand at me for no reason. I tried to ignore it but they did not want to stop, constantly egging me on. Attempting to distinguish the fire riled up between myself and the outsider, I politely asked them to stop multiple times, yet they did not understand my message. After a nonviolent gesture did not work, I then dunked their head under water. Although I acted violently, that was only because I had to. Many assume Hawaiians are violent, yet they do not know the justification for their violence. They do not know that Hawaiians have to be violent when all else fails.

Also in the article, I found the word “uncle” to be important, which the author does a great job in explaining. As many people know, an uncle is your relative, however, it can have a different meaning for a Hawaiian. In the article, Lancaster refers to Keaulana, the Hawaiian man, as “the most prominent of Makaha’s famous “uncles”—the mostly Hawaiian elders who serve as guardians of the community”. In other words, an uncle is either your mom’s brother, or dad’s brother, but a Hawaiian refers to a male elder as an uncle, regardless if they are related or not. As for my experience, I call all my elders aunty or uncle, based upon their preferred gender. When I refer to them as aunty or uncle, it is out of respect. Hawaiians highly respect their elders and referring to them as aunty or uncle is the way that they show their respect.

All in all, being a Hawaiian is challenging sometimes because I am the complete opposite of what popular culture has portrayed. Although I do not play the ukulele or surf, I am still a Hawaiian. Although I do not wear aloha print clothes or have naturally tanned skinned, my identity of a Hawaiian will never change. More importantly, not only are Hawaiians lifestyle anything but paradise due to violence being ever so prevalent, but also, Hawaiians geographical location does not mean always sunny. People need to realize that by supporting the stereotype of any identity, it can negatively impact an individual. Imagine what it would feel like day in and day out, to have someone tell you what you are supposed to be because we say so, and if you do not accept this, you are looked down upon. Popular culture has brainwashed society, telling individuals who they are, when they really do not know at all. Many people blindly accept this stereotype without ever questioning what this does to the individual that has been stereotyped.