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

Dolphin Quest Adventure

Sunday, October 26, 2014 and Sunday, November 9, 2014

Leave campus at 7:30 am, return by 5:00 pm

Feel the thrill of a lifetime as you touch, feed, swim with and even kiss a dolphin! Let loose, laugh and have lots of fun swimming with dolphins in a shallow, waist-deep lagoon on the property of the Hilton Waikoloa Hotel. The day will include learning about ocean ecosystems in Hawaii and after the swimming with the dolphins, you will be allowed to spend some time snorkeling in the Hilton lagoon or swimming at Anaeho'olmalu Bay. Space is limited. Cost is $30 (cash only, no refunds). Sign up at the International Student Services office in the Student Services Center Room E-202 or E-204.

Hawai'i: 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.

United Nations Day: Talk on Climate Change

Friday, October 24, 2014
4:00 pm in Campus Center Room 301

Tulele Peisa Wins United Nations Equator Prize 2014

Tulele Peisa, a local council of indigenous chiefs devoted to the relocation of the “climate change refugees” from the Carteret Atoll in Papua New Guinea has been awarded the prestigious United Nations Development Program Equator Prize 2014. Executive Director Ursula Rakova and Jacinta Helin traveled to New York this September to receive the award. Tulele Peisa, began as a fledgling grassroots effort to organize the voluntary relocation of the Carteret Islanders, perhaps the first such effort of its kind. The program has now blossomed into a community-based resettlement model, a blueprint for other island communities to follow.

Erosion, storm surges, and high tides have taken a severe toll on the islands of the Carteret Atoll. The people have been suffering the effects of hunger and malnutrition for years. Some might argue that these islands are no longer able to sustain the current population. It was under these dire conditions that Tulele Peisa was born. Ursula Rakova, a seasoned veteran of many community organizing efforts throughout Papua New Guinea, came home to help organize her own people. Through her tireless efforts, a resettlement location was secured in Tinputz. The islanders are working together with their host community to develop their natural resources in a responsible, sustainable manner.

Tulele Peisa was chosen for the Equator Prize from a pool of 1,234 entries from 121 countries, a tribute to the innovative ideas generated by this organization. Tulele Peisa received the $5000 (USD) cash prize at a high level ceremony at the Lincoln Center in New York.

Jacinta Helin is from the Carteret Atoll, Bougainville. Steve Hanks was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Bougainville where they met in 1993. They have been advocating for the Carteret Islanders ever since. Steve and Jacinta are teachers at Honoka’a High School where they have lived and worked for the past 20 years.

Kohala Watershed Service Project Trip

Saturday, October 25, 2014
Leave campus at 7:00 am from the Auxiliary Services parking lot and return to campus by 6:00 pm

Help preserve the land in the Kohala Mountains. On this work day, you will have a fantastic opportunity to serve the community in this volunteer project with the Kohala Watershed Partnership. See parts of the island most people never see while working together to protect and sustain the forests of Kohala Mountain. Space is limited to the first 5 international students who sign up.

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.