International Student Services & Intercultural Education

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International Education

The University of Hawaii: 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 in the States for information and resources for prospective and current international students, including information on applying for a visa to enter the United States, getting ready to go, arriving in the U.S., maintaining your status, and working in the U.S.

Upcoming Events & Activities

Buddy Program Gathering

Friday, September 19, 2014
Campus Center Room 301

US buddies: Please come at 3:00 pm for a short meeting before international students arrive.

International Students: Please come at 3:30 pm

Meet your buddy! If you signed up to have a buddy, come to this gathering to meet your buddy and enjoy some food. For those interested, buddies and their international students can go to the Hawaii County Fair on Friday evening.

Global Ambassadors Meeting

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

5:00-6:00 pm

Student Services Center Room W-201

If you signed up to be a volunteer Global Ambassador, come to this meeting to learn more about the program and discuss school visits for the fall semester.

Working in the U.S. After Graduation Workshop

Thursday, September 25, 2014
4:00 - 5:00 pm

Student Services Center Room W-201

Come to this workshop to learn about your options for working in the U.S. after graduation. This includes OPT (Optional Practical Training), which allows you to remain in and work in the U.S. after you graduate for one year so that you can gain experience in your field of study. Mr. Newton Chu, an attorney who specializes in immigration law, will also be present to discuss the H1-B visa (commonly referred to as a "work visa").

Meet Your Host Family!

Friday, September 26, 2014

5:30 pm at the Student Services Center Room W-201

Meet our host family! If you requested a host family, come to this gathering where you will meet your host family.

Waipi'o Valley Trip

Saturday, September 27, 2014
Depart from the Student Life Center at 8:00 am, return to campus around 3:00 pm

Join the International Student Association and the Outdoor Adventure Program on a free day-long trip to magnificent Waipi'o Valley! You will hike down a very steep road into the valley (which takes about 30-45 minutes) and hike back up at the end of the day, so be prepared for a long, steep hike. Space is limited.

What to Bring: Plenty of water (the hike into the valley is strenuous due to the steepness of the road), sturdy hiking shoes, sunscreen, layered clothing (the weather may be rain or shine), camera, lunch & snacks (there are no stores in the valley).

What is Waipi'o Valley? Located on the northeast coast about 1 hour from Hilo, the sacred Waipi'o Valley was the boyhood home of King Kamehameha I and an important center for political and religious life in Hawai'i. Not only is "The Valley of the Kings" an important site for Hawaiian history and culture, it is also a place of dramatic tropical beauty. This fertile valley is about one mile across and over five-miles deep, and surrounded by cliffs up to 2,000 feet high. Along the coast is a beautiful black sand beach. Waipi'o Valley was once the home of thousands of Native Hawaiians. Today, there are less than 100 residents living amongst the waterfalls, taro fields and rivers permeating the valley. Hawai'i Island's tallest waterfall, Hiilawe Falls cascades down 1,300 feet in the back of Waipi'o.

Check out this short video of Waipi'o Valley on YouTube. Find out more about the historical significance of Waipi'o Valley.

"Dangerous Living": The Movie

Thursday, October 9, 2014
Time & location to be announced

Dangerous Living: Coming Out in the Developing World is the first documentary to deeply explore the lives of gay and lesbian people in non-western cultures. Traveling to five different continents, we hear the heartbreaking and triumphant stories of gays and lesbians from Egypt, Honduras, Kenya, Thailand and elsewhere, where most occurrences of oppression receive no media coverage at all. By sharing the personal stories coming out of developing nations, Dangerous Living sheds light on an emerging global movement striving to end discrimination and violence against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people. Co-sponsored by Pride Hilo and the Women's Center. Free.

Hawaii': The Untold Story

Monday, October 20,, 2014
5:00 pm at Campus Center Room 301

Join us for an information and insightful presentation on the political history of Hawaii, including a rarely presented historical account that has intriguing implications for Hawaii today. Presentation by Kalani Makekau-Whittaker, formerly of the UH Hilo Kipuka Native Hawaiian Student Center. Free. No sign up is required.

Human Rights Watch Traveling Film Festival

Dates, times & films to be announced
Location to be announced

UH Hilo is proud to once again host the Human Rights Watch Traveling Film Festival on campus. Human Rights Watch is one of the world's leading independent organizations dedicated to defending and protecting human rights. The film festival bears witness to human rights violations and creates a forum to empower audiences with the knowledge that personal commitment can make a difference. In selecting films for the festival, Human Rights Watch concentrates equally on artistic merit and human rights content. The festival encourages filmmakers around the world to address human rights subject matter in their work and presents films from both new and established international filmmakers.

International Nights 2015

Friday & Saturday, February 6 & 7, 2015
7:30 pm at the UH Hilo Performing Arts Center

Each year the International Student Association produces shows that feature performances from the many different cultures and countries represented at UH Hilo. International Nights is a long-standing tradition at UH Hilo that spans over three decades, and is a favorite event on campus among students, the community, and visitors. Visit the International Nights website for more details.

Global Lens Film Series

Information about the Global Lens Film Series for 2014-2015 will be coming soon!

The Global Lens film series is a critically acclaimed showcase of award-winning, independent narrative features from around the world. The films are intended to promote intercultural understanding through film and to expose audiences to new voices from relatively unfamiliar parts of the world. The series provides a platform for exceptional storytelling and opens windows into the diverse world in which we live. The powerful, authentic narratives in the films can foster trust and respect between diverse cultures and mitigate the negative impacts of cultural prejudice, misunderstanding, and misperception. Admission is free.

Lava Walk Trip: See Lava at your Fingertips!

Date & Time To Be Announced - Check back for more details

Join the International Student Association for a trip to view lava! This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see lava up close with an experienced and knowledgeable guide.  You will be able to be just a few feet away from the lava—an experience that few people ever get! The trip includes a 1 1/2 hour hike starting in Kalapana and ending where the lava is flowing. You should be willing and able to walk 1 ½ hours over some rough terrain to and from the lava flow. Experienced tour guides will walk with you to and through the Lava Flow. The guides are more than just a guide: they are local, born and raised in Hawaii, and will share stories, folklore and more along the way, providing a walking tour of the lava flow that is beyond your expectations. Cost: To be determined. Bring: Sturdy, closed-toe shoes (no slippers!); long pants; water; flashlight; camera; hat; snacks. Check back for information on how to sign up.

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.

Congratulations to 2013-2014 ISA President Yvonne Johnny for being awarded the Malama Leadership Award at the Ka Lama Ku Student Leadership Recognition Ceremony for oustanding student leadership at UH Hilo during the 2013-2014 year!

ISA Officers for 2014-2015:

  • Pelenatete Leilua (Samoa) - President
  • Imelda Carlos (Timor-Leste) - Vice President
  • Akuila Smau (Palau) - Secretary
  • Elaine Chugen (Yap, FSM) - Treasurer
  • Renee David (Federated States of Micronesia) - Volunteer Coordinator
  • Peter Ramofolo (Solomon Islands) - Communications Officer
  • Axel Defngin (Yap, FSM) - Webmaster

In addition to the Officers, the following students have volunteered to serve as Event Coordinators:

  • Felicia Andrew (Palau)
  • Marli Klass (Palau)
  • Patti Pitmag (Yap, FSM)
  • Jiaying Wu (China)

Follow ISA on Facebook and Twitter (@uhhisa)!FacebookTwitter

Waipio ValleyISA

Nandar's Story

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 of Pohnpei in Micronesia as a volunteer teacher for three years.