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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.

New International Students

If you have been accepted to UH Hilo for the Fall 2016 semester, click here for a list of important things you need to do.

Upcoming Events & Activities

Orientation for New International Students


Tuesday, August 16, 2016
8:30 am at the University Classroom Building (UCB) Room 100
(see a map of campus)

All new international students are required to attend this orientation meeting. Bring your passport. 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.

Important: The dorms on campus will open for new international students on Monday, August 15. Plan on arriving in Hilo on August 15. More information about airport shuttles will be posted soon.

Welcome Party!

welcome party

Friday, August 26, 2016
5:30 pm at the Student Life Center Swimming Pool

Food, music, games, fun, prizes! All new and returning international students and ISA (International Student Association) members are welcome to attend this annual party! No need to sign up--just come. Rain or shine.

Hapuna Beach Trip

hapuna beach

Saturday, August 27, 2016
Meet at 8:00 am at the Student Life Center, return to campus around 4:00 pm

Join the International Student Association (ISA) and the Outdoor EdVenture Program for a trip to one of the most beautiful beaches in the world! International students can sign up at the Student Life Center Outdoor EdVenture Program office starting Thursday, August 18. $5 refundable deposit (you lose your deposit if you don't show up). Space is limited so sign up early.

Submarine Trip

atlantis submarine trip

Saturday, September 3, 2016
Meet at 6:30 am at the Student Life Center, return to campus around 4:00 pm

Join the International Student Association (ISA) and the Outdoor EdVenture Program for a trip to Kona and board a submarine to see underwater sea life! After the submarine trip, you will have some time to check out Kaloko-Honohokau National Historic Park. International students can sign up at the Student Life Center Outdoor EdVenture Program office starting Thursday, August 18. $25 non-refundable fee. Space is limited so sign up early.

Host Family Reception

UH Hilo Host Family Program Reception

Friday, September 9, 2016
6:00-7:30 pm at the Student Services Center Room W-201
(click here for a map of campus)

Come meet your host family! Pupus will be served.

"Mixed Plate" Dinner

mixed platehawaiian

Tuesday, September 13, 2016
5:30-8:00 pm at the Campus Center Room 301

Are you interested in learning about Hawaiian and local cultures, values and history? New international students are invited to come to a casual "mixed plate" dinner featuring local food and the opportunity to learn about Hawaiian and cultures from Native Hawaiian students. Space is limited to the first 25 new international students who sign up. Free! Check your UH email for a link to the online sign-up form. If you sign up after the first 25 students, you will be put on a wait list and you will be informed if a space becomes available.

Working in the U.S. after Graduation

Thursday, September 15, 2016
4:00-5:00 pm at the Student Services Center Room W-201

Students on F-1 visa: If you are planning on graduating in Fall 2016 or Spring 2017, come to this workshop to learn about your option to work in the US after graduation. We will discuss OPT (Optional Practical Training), which allows international students on F-1 visas to work in the US after graduation for one year so that you can gain experience in your field of study. In addition, an attorney who specializes in immigration law may also be present to discuss the H1-B visa (commonly referred to as a "work visa"). Even if you are not planning on graduating this in 2016-2017, you are welcome to come to the workshop so that you are aware of your future options.

Dolphin Quest Trip

dolphin quest

Saturday, October 15, 2016
Time to be announced

Jon the International Student Association (ISA) for an encounter with dolphins! Feel the thrill of a lifetime as you touch and feed a dolphin. Swim 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. Click here for more details about Dolphin Quest. Cost: $30 (cash only, no refunds). (The regular cost is about $200, so this is a huge discount!) Space is limited to 36 students. Check back later for details about how and when to sign up.

International Nights

Samoa at UH Hilo International Nights 2016

Friday & Saturday, February 10 & 11, 2017
7:30 pm at the UH Hilo Performing Arts Center
(see a map of campus)

Check back 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:

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

isa officers

Waipio Valley
International Students at Waipio Valley

Follow ISA on Facebook , Twitter & Instagram (@uhhisa)!

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. Nandar was also interviewed on BBC's One Square Mile.


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.

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