This week, we would like to introduce you to Hoku Okumura, a physical therapist and Senior Outpatient Clinic Director in Oregon.

  • One thing you cannot tell just by looking at or speaking with me is…

That I’m not ethnically Hawaiian.  Even though I was born and raised on O’ahu, danced hula for years, use my Hawaiian middle name and enjoy a fresh poke bowl at any time of day, I cannot claim Native Hawaiian ancestry.  Sometimes I feel like a fraud- so proud of where I come from that I don’t make the correction when people refer to me as “Hawaiian.”

  • This is important for me to share because…

Native Hawaiian culture is rich and beautiful and… has historically been bastardized to satisfy the Western appetite for “exotic” (yet Anglicized) entertainment.  The ‘melting pot’ culture of the islands today often overshadows the deep scars that Native Hawaiian families still bear to this day.  And because my love for Hawai’i is visceral and grounding, it is my responsibility to amplify and celebrate the indigenous people and culture that infuses modern Hawai’i with magic.

  • I share my culture at work by…

Learning to advocate for a more fair and balanced representation of the Hawaiian culture within our workplaces.  When our facilities celebrate “Hawaii Day” with bright short-sleeved button-down shirts and scratchy plastic “leis,” I ask for a few minutes to share a video, read a poem or play a song from a Native Hawaiian artist.  In future iterations, I plan to invite residents to listen, then participate in a conversation about colonization and a more sensitive, educated approach to tourism.

You can get involved with this project too! If you are interested in sharing a little of your story, click here. After two years of masks, we’d love to see your faces! If you feel comfortable, please add a picture of yourself. Do you work with someone who inspires/encourages/influences your personal growth? Nominate them for the Infinity Influencer Cultural Corner spotlights by emailing Hoku Okumura or Byrony Treser.



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