Online storytelling series to launch on Valentine’s Day

Each video event of the series will explore a different theme and showcase five storytellers from a variety of backgrounds.

By Susan Enright

Escobar and Jeong with Wailau and UH Hilo logos.
UH Hilo students Dayva Escobar and Kuʻuhiapo Jeong will host the premier event of Wailau.

The University of Hawai‘i at Hilo will launch the first of a series of storytelling events on Valentine’s Day, Sunday, February 14, 2021 at 2:00 p.m. The series, called Wailau (translated as the gathering of many waters), will be pre-recorded video performances designed to connect people across the UH Hilo campus and the wider community. Each video event will explore a different theme and showcase five storytellers from a variety of backgrounds.

Braden Savage
Braden Savage

“We intend to bring together the community through stories,” says UH Hilo senior Braden Savage, a member of the English Club helping to organize the series. “Particularly during a time when disunity, isolation and social anxieties are rampant, we would like to show that we are still connected, that we are still able to build a link among the members of our community, despite restrictions on physical distance.”

For each Wailau episode, hosts and storytellers will pre-record their performances on stage at the UH Hilo Performing Arts Center. At each premier event, the groups will be live chatting with the virtual audience.

UH Hilo students Dayva Escobar and Kuʻuhiapo Jeong, along with communication professor Ron Gordon, will host the premier event. The episode will showcase five storytellers and their stories:

  • Lee Dombroski, Manager of the UH Hilo Performing Arts Center: “For the Love of Gran”
  • Randy Hirokawa, Professor of Communication: “The Electric Guitar”
  • Jasmine Joao, UH Hilo Student: “Friends I No Longer Talk To”
  • Rebecca Choi, Community Member: “Speaking Love”
  • Jeff Baumgardner, Community Member: “Hitting the Send Button”

Wailau organizers include UH faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community members, including the UH Hilo English Club. Students from the club choose the Wailau themes, review applications, and select storytellers.

Details about the next Wailau event will be released during the February 14 online event.


Story by Susan Enright, a public information specialist for the Office of the Chancellor and editor of UH Hilo Stories. She received her bachelor of arts in English and certificate in women’s studies from UH Hilo.

Update, Wailau Episode 1