Brandon Bulseco, sometimes known as Keanu (his Hawaiian name) finds his place in the culture, land and people of Hawai‘i. Brandon’s parents grew up in Hawai‘i, but he was born in Oregon and lived most of his life in Massachusetts until this semester. Meet this Hawaiian who comes home to study a culture rooted in his ancestry.
What’s special about the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa?
Lots of things! The fact that the UH is a Hawaiian place of learning and gives me the ability to study the culture and language of my people. I absolutely love the open air buildings and the palm trees, which are everywhere, are special! You can’t find those in rural New Hampshire.
What’s special about your home school, Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire?
It’s a small school with a lot of personal interaction between the faculty and students. It feels like we’re family there. I found my interest and part of myself through the help of faculty in the History Department who pointed me in the right direction.
What are you doing when you feel most alive?
Being out in nature. This is contradictory to the fact that I’m attracted to the hustle and bustle of big cities, but every now and then it’s nice to take a break and get refreshed outdoors.
What superpower do you wish you had?
Time travel. I’m a type A personality, and I’d like the ability to go back and redo my mistakes. Also, I’d like to go back to the Kingdom period of Hawai‘i to compare what life was like then to now.
Where in the world would you like to get lost?
Definitely Hawai‘i. I have an unexplainable connection to this land, and if I got lost here, I could find my way. I’m not sure I could do that in any other environment.
What pop music fascinates you?
I’d say Nick Jonas’ “Jealous” which defines this semester. Every time we go somewhere, it’s playing in the car. My friends and I have a love/hate relationship with it. We hate it, but it’s so catchy we can’t help but sing along to it.
What are your personal superstitions?
I really don’t have any, but I do “knock on wood” a lot.
What is that one thing which makes you different?
I don’t know. I never think about that. I guess I would say being of Hawaiian, Japanese, Filipino, Chinese, and Okinawan descent.
If you were stranded on a lonely beach, what are the five things that you would want to have with you?
- a survival knife
- my ukulele, to give me something to do
- a journal to document. Writing is one of the ways I cope with stress.
- an iPod, or some sort of music.
What did you enjoy doing at age 10?
Travelling with my family. My sister Ashley is 7 years older than me, so we would take trips to visit colleges and for her to play softball. Also, my dad is a biochemist and he would bring me along to his labs where I would pretend to be a scientist.
If you could eliminate one thing from your daily schedule, what would it be and why?
I’d eliminate the time it takes to drive from one place to another; it’s wasted time. I want to be able to teleport.
Tell us something you hate doing.
I hate starting papers or anything. It’s hard to put my ideas on paper. But once it gets going, it’s okay.
Tell us something you love doing and why.
I love music, playing my ukulele, and being at the beach watching the water and waves. I have a personal connection with this place.
If you were to get a permanent tattoo done, what would it be?
I’ve never really thought about getting one. I guess I’d get something symbolic about being Hawaiian around my shoulder.
What have you enjoyed doing in Hawai‘i so far?
Hiking, going to the beach, and hanging out with my new friends, Laura and Emily. Going to the Hawai‘i 5-0 wrap party was a highlight so far! Also, I’ve enjoyed reconnecting with my Hawaiian ancestry and culture and visiting family that I don’t get to see much.
If you could have lunch with any three people (real or fictitious/from any time period/dead or alive), which three people would you choose and why?
Daniel Dae Kim: he’s one of my all-time favorite actors. He recently starred in the hit movie Insurgent and was able to obtain a role as a leadership figure and not the stereotypical nerdy, good grades guy or severely strict parent. He was phenomenal in that role!
Queen Liliʻuokalani: I would want to know how she felt to have her kingdom/nation ripped from her by the U.S. She looked up to the U.S. but was betrayed by the government.
Jake Shimabukuro: his ukulele playing is inspirational. Absolutely love him and his music!
With what technology would you write a love letter?
Even with all the new technology available, I’d have to say nothing could replace pen and paper for a love letter.
Share one truth and one lie about your personality and let us guess which is what.
I’m very shy. I’m high maintenance.
If you were to write a book about yourself, what would you name it?
He Hawai‘i Au: I Am Hawaiian
What advice would you give to a new ASH student?
Go on and explore. This island is filled with so much to do. Take advantage of your time because before you know, it’s one week away from finals! If you’re on the fence about doing something, just do it. Most importantly, understand and respect the host culture. Get to know the real Hawaiian culture because it’s not just what you see in movies.
If you could have an unlimited storage of one thing, what would it be?
Spam musubi! We make it at home in Massachusetts, but it’s not the same as eating it here in Hawai‘i!