UnknownI’ve lived in Hawaii my entire adult life (coming up on 30 years), so I understand the importance of building relationships.  I’ve always lived in the outer islands and these areas are often referred to as ‘rural’.  Maybe they resemble rural areas on the mainland, but there is something different.  For starters, we live on an island, a finite land mass in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Second, layers of very distinct cultures make up the resident base – Hawaiians make up the host culture, Japanese descendants make up the majority of actual residents, and the United States governs the region.  Yes, it’s a state, but the history and ethnic diversity are very different from other states on the North American continent.

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Often when Hawaiian locals greet one another you hear a dialogue about family ties.  “Who’s your family?”  This is a quick and easy way to create a social connection.  Often times, the Hawaiian ohana (extended family) is far and wide, so at some point in the exchange a connection is typically made.  For me, it’s not my family in Hawaii, but I might be able to make a connection through my ohana of friends, colleagues, schools, or place of business.  Regardless, establishing a social connection is of extreme importance to begin a real relationship with people in Hawaii.

Establishing social connections allows the opportunity to build relationships.  Through relationships and connectivity, social capital is established.  According to Steinfield, Ellison, Lampe, and Vitak (2012), “The term social capital has been widely used to refer to the accumulated resources derived from the relationships among people within a specific social context or network.”

In a TED talk, Christakis (2010) explains the impact of social ties in the “The Hidden Influence of Social Networks” by explaining that networks have value.  They are a kind of social capital.”  He states, “It’s the ties between people that makes the whole greater than the sum of its parts.”  “Our experience of the world depends on the actual structure of the networks in which we are residing and all the kinds of things that ripple and flow through the network.”

It’s important to establish a sense of belonging in the community in which one lives.  By establishing relationships and building social capital, life can be more meaningful and purposeful.

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