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BLOG: Judge Kupau cries at 11th Annual Lumana'i Mo Samoa Scholarship awards
It's not everyday you see a judge cry so I'll never forget the story that O'ahu First Circuit District Court Judge Lanson K. Kupau shared when he spoke at the 11th Annual Lumana'i Mo Samoa Scholarship Awards banquet last year. I had to fight back my own tears that night.
I never would've known about the awards banquet if it were not for my fabulous cousin Dr. Mavis Alaimalo, wife to Dr. Ernest Alaimalo, donors of this great cause: scholarships to assist young Samoans with their higher education goals. The name of the program was enough for me to know that I wanted to be a part of it. "Lumana'i Mo Samoa" a "Future for Samoa." What could be more awesome than this? Nothing, of course. Thank you Mavis for thinking of me and for taking me with you.
Technical difficulties caused me to lose my written story. I wanted to scream from the top of the Waianae Mountain Range about the loss of my story and maybe even jump off the mountaintop (because that's what you feel like doing when you 'lose' a story) but I have five children, a mother and an aunt to care for, so obviously, jumping was out of the question.
Judge Kupau's speech haunted me for months and so has the urgent need to get this story out in order to increase awareness on "Lumana'i Mo Samoa" as the non-profit group prepares to host their 2013 fundraiser and awards banquet.
According to Judgepedia, Lanson K. Kupau is a judge on the O`ahu First Circuit District Court in Hawaii, appointed by Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald in April 2011. He was confirmed by the Hawaii Senate before taking office in June and his current term expires June 8, 2017. Kupau earned a Bachelor's Degree from the University of Hawaii, and a J.D. from the California Western School of Law.
He began his legal career as a deputy public defender in 1992, continues Judgepedia. He next went into private practice in 1995, concentrating on civil litigation with: Reinwald, O'Connor and Playdon; Kobayashi, Sugita and Goda; Rush Moore LLP; and Bronster Hoshibata. He also worked as a per diem judge for the First District.
Kupau was invited by Lumana'i Mo Samoa organizers to present during this banquet that presented select students of Samoan ancestry with a $600 award and a beautiful glass plaque. It was an awesome celebration of Samoan culture, scholarship and success. I loved it. I was surrounded by Samoan professors, judges, attorneys, doctors and a happy, promising group of 18 young men and women and their proud families. Because it was a special occasion, many of the girls and women were in their puletasi and the men in their ie faitaga, ofu tino and safari suits. I felt like I was back in Samoa or even American Samoa, where Samoan judges, professors, attorneys, doctors, teachers and yes, even journalists are the norm.
When Kupau spoke, I was reminded of my whereabouts. I was not in Samoa, I was in Hawai'i (where I was born and I happen to also call "home") where the Samoan experience is slightly, let's say different, from anywhere in the world. Kupau was beaming all night and when he took the podium to present, his smile and enthusiasm lit up the stage. But his voice broke as he struggled to tell a childhood story. The audience went quiet, listening intently for what he wanted to share.