With Global Pau Hana, you’re never far from Hawai‘i
|When I called
Dave Kozuki at his San Francisco home to talk about his new Web site, www.globalpauhana.org,
he quickly cut in, "Wait, wait, before we start this interview, let's get the
Hawai'i stuff out of the way. You graduated from Sacred Hearts, right? My sisters
graduated from there, and I went to St. Louis."|
If you've lived in Hawai'i, you know the "What high school you went?" drill. It usually leads to more questions. "You know so-and-so then? She grad one year after you." It's how locals establish ties with someone new.
Kozuki's Web site is just like that-an Internet icebreaker for Hawai'i folks, wherever they live. Global Pau Hana started in 1999 as a way for Hawai'i expatriates in the Bay Area to network personally and professionally.
"When I first moved to Silicon Valley from Hawai'i, I wanted to meet new people," explains Kozuki, who's worked for companies such as IBM and Sprint. "I figured out which Hawai'i people I knew in the area, and we organized the Bay Area Pau Hana by sending out e-mails, Evites, doing a database-nothing really high-tech-to organize get-togethers."
When those events began drawing up to 500 people, expats in other cities-New York, Los Angeles, Vegas and so on-bugged Kozuki to do something similar in their towns. That's when he created Global Pau Hana.
While it's a lot like other networking sites, such as Friendster, Global Pau Hana is strictly for people who live in, have lived in or just love Hawai'i. "There are other small cities across the country, but because Hawai'i is so isolated, it's really different, like its own community," Kozuki says. "When you live on the Mainland and find out someone else in the office is from Hawai'i, it's like a little party. Hawai'i people get so excited, and everyone else in the office doesn't know why. You don't see people from Minnesota getting that excited. That's why there's so much excitement for this site."
Less than a month after www.globalpauhana.org launched in May, it had drawn nearly 2,000 registered users. While the site is a good way to socialize, it's also a great business tool. Even the Hawai'i state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism and High-Tech Development Corp. have recognized the site's possibilities, often partnering with Global Pau Hana on various events.
"People put a lot of professional information about themselves in their online profiles-what their skill sets and backgrounds are, like biotech or programming," says Kozuki. "It helps expatriates find jobs in the cities they're living in, and it also helps Hawai'i companies find expatriates who might want to move back to the state, if given a good job opportunity. It helps people make friends and do business with people they feel they can trust, people who have that tie to Hawai'i."