Love is a Life Skill

A Study of Love in a Hawaiian Transitional Housing Program


  • Penn Pantumsinchai Liliʻuokalani Trust
  • Brent Llaneza
  • Pālama Lee


Hawaiʻi, Native Hawaiian, culture, aloha, transitional aged-youth, systems-involved youth, opportunity youth, life skills, executive functioning, communication, foster care


Love comes in many shapes and may be directed in many directions, be it to oneself, a romantic partner, oneʻs family, the community, and so forth. In Hawaiian culture, one of the most important values is aloha. More than a simple greeting, it is love with all its depths and complexities including pilina (relationships) and ʻōiwi (native intelligence), among many other values. This article describes how aloha as love was taught and reinforced as a life skill for ʻōpio (young adults) living in a transitional housing program in Hawaiʻi. ʻŌpio who have lived experiences with systems such as foster care, juvenile justice, and houselessness often lack the life skills to manage daily life and maintain supportive relationships, leading to cycles of struggles as adults. Yet they have a great capacity for love that can be honed into life skills such as communication, emotional regulation, boundary setting, and reconciliation. This paper tells the moʻolelo (stories) of ʻōpio learning the life skills of love and the staff who sought to build an ʻohana-like (family) community.

Author Biography

Penn Pantumsinchai, Liliʻuokalani Trust

  • Penn Pantumsinchai, PhD | Research & Evaluation Team, Liliʻuokalani Trust


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