Issue #82

Laura Pellegrini

La Curiosa

I was born in Rome and I spent in there most of my life. Since as long ago as I can remember I have always been fascinated by the natural world and intrigued by the functioning of living organisms. That childish fascination has not left me but deepened over the years and led me to study Biotechnology at University. I moved to Hawaii to finish my Ph.D. program and I decided to continue my studies in this incredible island.

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What do you do in your life (work and fun)?

I am actually a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Hawaii Cancer Center where I conduct, together with my colleagues, research to elucidate mechanisms that drive cancer development and progression and translate the discoveries into better diagnostics and interventions. During my free time I enjoy hiking and playing volleyball with my friends. I also love to spend my time reading on the beach or relax at home cooking and baking.

What made you leave Italy and chose Honolulu?

I decided to leave Italy mainly due to my curiosity. I wanted to meet people from other countries and learn about different culture. Moreover I was interested in seeing how the research was approached outside Italy.  I think that sometimes is easier to understand and to appreciate something if you look at it from other perspectives. In the attempt to satisfy my curiosity, while I was doing my Ph.D. in Italy I asked the permission to spend some time abroad. There was a scientific collaboration between my University in Rome and the Cancer Center in Honolulu and this is how I ended up here.

Please share your best memory in the City.

I have so many wonderful memories of this town, but the best is when I saw for the first time the sunrise over the ocean with my friends. That morning we woke up early, we reached the top of the Diamond Head crater that was still dark and we waited for the sunrise. It was a breathtaking and unforgivable experience. The sun started to rise from the ocean and filled the sky with a collection of red orange and pink colors, all melting together. It was a so astonishing experience that is difficult for me to describe.

What made you choose this specific location and outfit?

I decided to choose this particular location, the Royal Hawaiian Hotel because its one of my favorite place in Waikiki, the heart of Honolulu. Although this area is always crowded with tourist, the Royal Hawaiian Hotel feels miles away from the chaos of the city. Moreover it is a sacred and storied place rich with legends and the spirit of the Hawaiian ancestors. The land on which the Royal Hawaiian Hotel and the Royal Hawaiian Center now sit was once known as Helumoa, a Hawaiian word meaning chicken scratch. This is believed to refer to a sixteenth-century Hawaiian legend. According to this legend, Kakuhihewa, chief of O’ahu, was playing there one day when a legendary phantom rooster, Ka’auhelemoa, suddenly landed in front of him, began to scratch the earth and just as suddenly disappeared. Kakuhihewa took this as an omen and planted niu or coconuts at that very spot where Ka‘auhelemoa had scratched. This coconut came to be known as Helumoa and, in turn, supported a grove of several thousand coconut trees. Helumoa has been the site of several different royal Hawaiian homes for this reason Helumoa has also been referred to as the King’s Park and Grove. Regarding my outfit, I decided to wear casual clothes because this is the way I usually dress, although I like to play with the accessories especially necklaces, rings and bracelets.

Your thought about this project, ITALIANY.US

There are many Italians living abroad. We are different and various are the reasons that bring us to leave Italy. I think that this project is a wonderful way to tell the stories of the people who are trying to realize their dream in a foreign country, spotlighting their experiences and revealing their personality.

How would you describe being an ambassador of the italian style/culture abroad?

As ambassador of the italian style and culture we are in a very privileged but at the same time delicate position since we have the possibility to let people know better about our wonderful country. There are a lot of stereotype about our tradition and our lifestyle and only talking to people and let them see what we are capable of doing and what we really are could change their vision of Italy and Italians.

  • Honolulu, HI


  • Time

    120 mins

  • Shots


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A visual celebration of Italians working, living and loving in NY and in the US