What's clear is that Obama learned early on to value diverse peoples and views. For example, Maya Soetoro-Ng has these things to say about her brother:
There was always a joke between my mom and Barack that he would be the first black president.Isn't this the type of person that America needs today?
He had to pursue those answers actively. People from very far-away places collide here, and cultures collide, and there is a blending and negotiation that is constant.
I think Hawaii gave him a sense that a lot of different voices and textures can sort of live together, however imperfectly, and he would walk in many worlds and feel a level of comfort.
AP Photo: Barack is 3rd from left in top row