International Student Services & Intercultural Education

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International Education

The University of Hawaiʻi: A Global University

The International Student Services & Intercultural Education (ISS & IE) program has two primary missions. The first is to assist international students with clarifying and attaining their academic and personal goals while complying with the regulations pertaining to their immigration status. ISS & IE serves as an interface between UH Hilo and international students in order to facilitate communication, understanding and appreciation between them. The second mission is to facilitate and assist all students at UH Hilo, regardless of national origin, with developing intercultural competence. Ultimately, the goals of international education are to advance learning and scholarship and to increase intercultural awareness, understanding and competency in our increasingly global community.

Information about applying for admission to UH Hilo can be found on the Admissions website.

Check out Study Guide to the States for an online, interactive resource to help international students navigate the international student process. Use this step-by-step guide to learn about the process of studying in the United States. Topics include what to consider if you want to study in the United States, how to apply for a visa to enter the United States, how to maintain your status while in the U.S., guidelines for traveling back home, and working in the U.S.

Exchange Students with flags representing their countries.

Upcoming Events & Activities

International Speaker Series

Mauna Kea

Thursday, October 15, 2015
7:00 pm, Campus Center Room 301

"How Countries Respond Differently to Telescopes on their Mountain Peaks"

Speaker: Marianne Takamiya, Physics & Astronomy Department

This free talk will discuss how countries around the world respond differently to telescopes on their mountain peaks. Co-sponsored with the United Nations Association of the USA-Hawaii Chapter.

Dolphin Quest Adventure Trip

dolphin questdolphin quest

Saturday, October 17, 2015
Meet at 7:00 am at the Student Life Center, return to campus around 4:00 pm

Feel the thrill of a lifetime as you touch, feed, swim with and even kiss a dolphin! Have fun swimming with dolphins in a shallow, waist-deep lagoon on the property of the Hilton Waikoloa Hotel (about 90 minutes from Hilo). The day will include learning about ocean ecosystems in Hawaii. You will also be allowed to spend some time snorkeling in the Hilton lagoon. Cost is $30 (cash only, no refunds). Space is limited. Sign up at the International Student Services office in Room E-202 in the Student Services Center. Click here for more details about Dolphin Quest.

Global Lens International Film Festival

global lens

Expose. Engage. Inspire.

Global Lens International Film Festival

Monday-Thursday, October 19-22, 2015
UCB (University Classroom Building) Room 100 at 7:00 pm
(click here for a campus map)

Featuring award-winning films on human rights issues in parts of the world with which many are unfamiliar: Myanmar (Burma), West Papua, Indonesia and Timor-Leste. UH Hilo students from these and surrounding nations will introduce each film and discuss their perspectives on the issues highlighted in the films. Free admission!

Monday, October 19 - Focus on Burma (Myanmar)

They Call It Myanmar: Lifting the Curtain ("A thing of beauty… a documentary with all the virtues of a great feature film…a hymn to a land that has grown out of the oldest cultures in Asia.” Rogert Ebert, Chicago Sun Times)

Tuesday, October 20 - Focus on West Papua

Forgotten Bird of Paradise ("A rare & moving insight into the forgotten struggle for independence in West Papua")

The Road to Home (Follows Benny Wenda, the Nobel Peace Prize nominated West Papuan independence leader, in his ongoing struggle to free his people from Indonesian colonial rule)

Wednesday, October 21 - Focus on Indonesia

The Act of Killing (2014 Academy Award nominee for Best Documentary Feature)

Thursday, October 22 - Focus on Timor-Leste

A Guerra da Beatriz (U.S. premier of the 1st feature-length narrative film about Timor-Leste!)

Service Trip to Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park

Kaloko Honokohau National Historical Park

Sunday, October 25, 2015
Meet at 5:45 am in front of the Bookstore, return to campus by 6:00 pm

Provide service to the community at Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park by removing invasive species from the park. The group will either be working in one of the fishponds removing non-native pickleweed and/or paspallum or carrying and consolidating already cut grass and small branches at a cultural site near Aimakapa Fishpond. After working for a few hours, the park guides will give tours of the fishponds (the largest on the Big Island) and talk about their uses and the on-going restoration of the ponds.

You will need to have close-toed shoes, preferably long pants and long sleeve shirt, a hat and a water bottle. If you end up working in the fishpond, your shoes may get wet. You also should bring some swimwear, sunscreen and lunch. Tools, gloves and a large jug of water will be provided. If time permits, the group may stop at Hapuna Beach Park to swim before returning to Hilo. Space is limited. Information about signing up will be posted soon.

Zip Line Adventure Trip

Zip LineZip Line

Wednesday, November 11, 2015 (holiday: no classes - rain or shine)
Meet at 8:45 am at the Student Services Center, return to campus around 2:00 pm

Join the UH Hilo International Student Association for a Zip Line Adventure with Kapoho Kine Adventures! Experience the thrill of soaring over native Hawaiian rainforests and the lush brilliance of the Honoli'i river and its thunderous waterfalls. This zip line includes 8 lines over 2 waterfalls. Bring your lunch and water.

Space is limited to 39 students. Sign up at the International Student Services office (Room E-202 in the Student Services Services). Cost: $50 cash only (non-refundable). (The normal cost is $179, so this is a huge discount!) You will need to read and sign a form describing the potential dangers of ziplining before your space is confirmed.

International Speaker Series

international speaker seriesglobal voices

3rd Thursday of each month

September 17, October 15, November 19, January 21, February 18, March 17 & April 21
7:00 pm, Campus Center Room 301

In collaboration with the United Nations Association - Hawaii Chapter, this series of free talks with feature a faculty or community member discussing a topic of international relevance or concern.

September 17: "From Nuclear Exodus to Cultural Reawakening: Revitalizing Wave Navigation and Voyaging in the Marshall Islands" - Joseph Genz, Anthropology Dept.

October 15: "How Countries Respond Differently to Telescopes on their Mountain Peaks" - Marianne Takamiya, Physics & Astronomy Dept.

November 19: "U.S. Presidency and Foreign Policy" - Todd Belt, Political Science Dept.

January 21: "International Conflict Resolution" - Su-Mi Lee, Political Science Dept.

February 18: "Filipino Migrant Workers and Cosmopolitanism" - Celia Bardwell-Jones, Philosophy Dept.

March 17: "Can Social Entrepreneurship Address Challenges at the Base of the Global Development Pyriad?" - Dr. Jerry Calton, College of Business & Economics

April 21: "Effects of Climate Change on Agriculture" - Dr. Cam Muir, Biology Dept.

Orientation for New International Students


Wednesday, January 6, 2016
University Classroom Building (UCB) Room 100 - Time to be announced

All new international students are required to attend this orientation meeting. Bring your passport (and, if you are a student on an F-1 visa, also bring your I-20 Form and proof of health insurance). Breakfast and lunch will be provided. Click here for a map of campus.

International Nights 2016

UH Hilo International Nights

Friday, February 19 & Saturday, February 20, 2016

UH Hilo Performing Arts Center

Visit the International Nights website for more information.

International Student Association (ISA)


ISA is a student club for international students and their friends. The club's motto is "Unite, Serve, Educate." The club organizes trips, social events and service opportunities throughout the year, as well as UH Hilo's annual International Nights. Visit the ISA website for more information.

ISA Officers for 2015-2016:

  • Akuila Smau (Palau) - President
  • Bill Yang (Federated States of Micronesia) - Vice President
  • Xiaoting Liu (China) - Treasurer
  • Josefina Pereira (Timor-Leste) - Secretary
  • Felicia Andrew (Palau) - Volunteer Coordinator
  • Denita Robert (Federated States of Micronesia) - Volunteer Coordinator
  • Bianca Novotna (Czech Republic) - Social Media Coodinator
  • Helio Miguel Oliveira de Aruajo (Timor-Leste) - Event Coordinator
  • Joshua Parep (Papua New Guinea) - Event Coordinator

Waipio Valley
International Students at Waipio Valley

Nandar's Story

Mya Yee Nandar
Mya Yee Nandar

Check out this fascinating story (A Journey of 7,000 Miles Began With a Single Snake) by Mya Yee Nandar, a UH Hilo student from Burma (Myanmar), featured in the International Student Voice magazine. Also check out her two-part story Like Crabs in a Basket.


About the Director

Jim MellonJim Mellon has been the Director of International Student Services & Intercultural Education since 2011. Jim earned his bachelor's degree from Duke University and master's degree from the University of Hawaiʻ at Manoa, where he was immersed in intercultural programs as a grantee with the East-West Center. He previously served as the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs & Dean of Students at UH Hilo.

Goals: Facilitate the success of international students and promote the development of intercultural competence among all students with an emphasis on social justice.

Likes: Competing in open water swimming races and triathlons, traveling, music by Dave Matthews Band, books by David Sedaris, movies by Jim Jarmusch, comedians Kristen Wiig & Chelsea Handler.

Did You Know? He swam 28.5 miles around New York City and won the 10-mile Maui channel swim from Lanai to Maui in 1998, competed in the Ironman Triathlon World Championships four times, and lived and worked on the island ofPohnpei in Micronesia as a volunteer teacher for three years.