The unique relationship among Brigham Young University Hawaii, the Polynesian Cultural Center, the Hawaii Temple and community of Laie goes way beyond successful numbers: These institutions and the community of Laie continue to change the lives of those who come here. The time the students spend in Laie prepares them to go forth with integrity and faith — fully comfortable in highly diverse societies — to build strong families, contribute professionally, and to serve in their communities, countries and church. For example, a management intern from the People's Republic of China said of her experience:
As a student I gain more than just financial and academic benefits. My values and character are uplifted by the deep-rooted aloha spirit of hospitality, sincerity, friendship and brotherhood. To study here is a magical part of my life. I believe my whole life will be brightened because of my experience here, which I will take back to China where I will serve better. Thank you, Polynesian Cultural Center.
Even government leaders see the potential, as shown in this comment by the Mongolian ambassador to the United States:
BYU-Hawaii will have a tremendous role to play in the future prosperity of Mongolia because your returning students have a foundation in morality as well as intelligence.
Former BYU-Hawaii President Eric B. Shumway noted, "As I carry the BYU-Hawaii banner around the world, I find that I'm always talking about the Polynesian Cultural Center. The uniqueness of our campus is really in our connection with the Center...where we have a major business and a major university working together to serve and prepare young men and women for leadership in the Church and in the world."
"Everything that the PCC does, and everything that BYU-Hawaii does, is for students: For their growth, for their education, for their practical experience, for their financial resources — all of these happen because we are working together. We are really joined at the heart with the Polynesian Cultural Center," he said.
"This is truly a symbiotic, mutually sustaining and reinforcing relationship in which one cannot function without the other in its fullest and most glorious capacity.
"For what purpose?" he asked. "For the purpose of training students to be leaders, building friendships with people across the world, providing a profound missionary opportunity for people to feel the aloha spirit and other influences of the Holy Ghost, and to portray the best of our Polynesian cultures."
Polynesian Cultural Center President Von D. Orgill emphasizes "the PCC/BYU-Hawaii connection is crucial to the Center's success. There would be no Polynesian Cultural Center without BYU-Hawaii student employees. These students, who make up 60-70% of our employee population, bring energy, vitality, and an abundance of the aloha spirit with them. They communicate to all who visit a warmth, friendliness, kindness, hospitality, and love rarely seen or experienced in other places.
"The experience is also beneficial for the students employed in the Center, as many develop an appreciation for their own heritage as well as a deep respect for the cultures of other people from around the world. The student employees are necessarily and appropriately the core and the focus of all we do at the Center.
"There is a spirit here that is unequalled anywhere I have been or seen. Diversity is genuinely celebrated here and it works. I think it works the way the Lord intended. The heritage of this place and those who have helped create the fulfillment of prophetic words here makes Laie a one-of-a-kind community. The influence of this tiny place extends throughout the world," President Orgill continued.
"There is very little that we plan and do that is not closely coordinated with BYU-Hawaii. We recognize that neither institution could exist without the other. At all levels of both entities we work hard to create a mutually beneficial, productive, and rewarding relationship. PCC plays an important role for BYU-Hawaii, in the Church, and in the world community."
Elder Jeffrey D. Holland of the LDS Church's Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who previously served as Commissioner of the Church Education System, President of BYU and served on the Polynesian Cultural Center board of directors, recently restated this theme at the dedication of a new BYU-Hawaii church building:
This community demonstrates aspects of neighborly love that someday we will all need to adopt. Wherever we come from, however we speak, whatever our history, whatever our heritage, whatever our language, whatever our education, whatever our hopes and our dreams, we eventually must learn how to live together as children of God. I know this seems extravagant, but more and more, not less and less, in this big wide Church and world in which we live, Laie is going to be a symbol of what we are trying to be as brothers and sisters in the gospel.