Pan-Pacific Parade Participants Ready To Go Home - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Pan-Pacific Parade Participants Ready To Go Home

Kris Hare Kris Hare

By Oscar Valenzuela - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The celebratory send off during the Pan-Pacific parade was originally created as a means by which to grow the bonds between the residents of Hawaii and Japan. 

The warm smiles on the teenage parade participants is a testament to the festival's success. But for the young adults from Sendai, Japan, their beaming expressions revealed a new inner strength they've had to rebuild since that nightmarish day in March.

Misato Asai and her classmates were in school on March 11th, the day of the 9.0 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami.  "I was in the middle of class and I was really scared and I had a panic attack." she said.

The students evacuated to the upper floors of their school building and had to remain there through the night.

Asai said it was a terrible night, "It was really cold, no power, no food." 

A month later, students participating in partnership with the I-Lion Hawaii school, were sent to meet their local Hawaii host families who were more than ready to provide the support they needed.

Kris Hare, a host parent told us, "Even though we're far away from them in Hawaii we're still family, we're in the Asia-Pacific basin."

The families stayed clear of bringing up any tragic reminders and focused simply on sharing their love of Hawaii with the students."Like first time to standup paddle, first time to try loco moco." Boasted the host mom with a smile.

Hare, who has two grown children of her own, knows a little about helping kids cope.

"They internalize a lot of things so you have to be available, so I think just spending time and allowing when they are ready to talk story, then you be there and be available." she explained.

Available and willing to share their home and Hawaii to some special kids. Young adults who will soon be home to deal with new beginnings, strengthened by the love and support they got from everyone they met here.

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