Hapa-palooza 2011 – My Experience
For three gloriously sunny days in September, I volunteered for Vancouver’s first ever Hapapalooza Festival. I’ll never forget the experience. After reading Anna Ling Kaye’s interview in last August’s Bulletin, I wanted to get involved. I am not hapa, but I saw a learning opportunity ahead of me and I was eager to get started. Anna put me in touch with volunteer coordinator Julie Faye Fuss, who then got me postering for the event. Every person I talked to was extremely supportive. They felt that the time was right for a celebration such as this. It made me realize just how many mixed families I knew. I love the idea of everyone being included. That was the message I took away from the event.
Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the inaugural event with spoken-word poetry and Fred Wah. However, I heard many glowing reviews from the attendees. We may have to do Hapapalooza 2012, for me to catch up! Thursday’s “Mixed Flicks” gave one a chance to see new perspectives through short film clips. The film, “Mixed Mexican” showed that self-identity is important, but it’s not often well-articulated on the boxes of a census form. The entire audience really enjoyed watching the Crayola Monologues as a metaphor for discussions on mixed race. Afterwards, the host, Jeff Chiba Stearns, moderated a panel with actors and filmmakers who discussed their joys and tribulations of working in the business. I caught only half of Friday night’s Cabaret, but Kokoro Dance was thought provoking. Imagine, I have lived in Vancouver this entire time, and never had my conciousness raised like that! Meanwhile, the volunteers were in the kitchen making sure there were tasty snacks and Chai Tea for all invitees.
Saturday afternoon at Robson Square was the culmination of the past 4 days. Life happens when you turn off your tv because everyone was moving to the rhythms of The Jocelyn Petit Band as well as Ndidi Cascade and Deanna Teeple. John Endo Greenaway led the talented drummers of Chibi Taiko, while Tetsuro Shigematsu and Jenna Chow kept things light with their banter. Musqueam First Nations Elder Larry Grant also contributed stories and insights. Finally, Kutapira’s energetic drumming had young and old dancing throughout the afternoon. Many people were dying to purchase one of their CDs!
Margaret Mead, the anthropologist, once said that it is a small group of people that will get together to change the world. I truly believe that. I saw the unflagging enthusiasm in the eyes of volunteers and organizers, both. There are so many things I have missed, but I guess we will just have to do it again next year!