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

Merrie Monarch Festival Events

Once a year, Hilo is the center of the attention for people interested in Native Hawaiian culture. Hilo hosts the annual Merrie Monarch Festival, a week-long series of activities centered around the premier hula competition in Hawai'i. Hula dancers from all over Hawai'i as well as dancers from Japan, the U.S. Mainland, and other countries come to Hilo to participate in the festival. All the hula competition takes place at the Edith Kanaka'ole Stadium near the Civic Auditorium. The dancing is accompanied by craft fairs and Hawaiian culture events around Hilo. Here is a summary of the schedule:

April 23: Ho'ike Night (Free Exhibition), 6:00 pm
Though this night is not part of the competition it is free, and all you have to do is get in line early (suggested by 3:00 pm). Go with a group of friends, and enjoy the Hula celebration.

April 24-26: Hulka Competition Nights, 6:00 pm
These three night require tickets (it is sold out), but go if you can get one.

April 23-25: 'Imiloa Hula Workshops 10:00 am
'Imiloa, right here on campus, is offering special workshops during Merrie Monarch Week at 10:00 am. Tickets are required, and cost $6-$8, learn more here.

April 25: On-Campus Screening of Kahiko Competition, 6:00-8:00 pm
On-campus free screening of the Merrie Monarch competition on at the Pacific Islander Student Center at Campus Center 307. This night is the traditional (kahiko) style of hula.

April 26: Merrie Monarch Parade, Leave campus at 9:30 am, return around 12:30 pm
This fun annual tradition will highlight Hilo community groups as well as Hawaiian culture. We will provide free transportation from campus to downtown Hilo for international students. Sign up online here. Free! Space is limited.

Global Lens Film Series

Tuesday nights, January 28, February 25, March 18 & April 15, 2014
7:00 pm

University Classroom Building (UCB) Room 127

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.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Nothing More (Nada+)
(from Cuba; in Spanish with English subtitles)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014
(from Algeria; in Arabic with English subtitles)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014
I Am From Titov Veles
(from Macedonia; in Macedonian with English subtitles)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014
(from Bosnia & Herzegovina; in Bosnian with English subtitles)

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.

ISA Officers for 2013-2014:

  • Yvonne Johnny (Federated States of Micronesia) - President
  • Angelo Menezes Guterres Aparicio (Timor-Leste) - Vice President & Public Relations
  • Imelda Carlos (Timor-Leste) - Secretary
  • Nellie Kati (Papua New Guinea) - Treasurer
  • Quang Tan ("Charlie") Huynh (Vietnam) - Webmaster
  • Hitomi Kitade (Japan) - Membership Coordinator
  • Anna-Belle Nena (Federated States of Micronesia) -Volunteer Coordinator
  • Renee David (Federated States of Micronesia) - Volunteer Coordinator
  • Aya Shimada (Japan) -Orientation Coordinator
  • Mya Yee Nandar (Burma) - Vice President, Fall 2013

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.