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

Meet Your Buddy

global buddies

Thursday, August 27, 2015
5:00 pm, Student Services Center Room W-201

If you are a new international student and you signed up to have a U.S. buddy, come to this gathering to meet your buddy! Refreshments will be served.

Welcome Party

welcome party

Friday, August 28, 2015
4:00 pm, Student Life Center Swimming Pool

All new and returning international students are invited to our annual Welcome Party! Food, fun, games and prizes!

Submarine Trip

Submarine trip

Saturday, August 29, 2015
Leave from the Student Life Center at 7:30 am

An unforgettable 45-minute journey aboard an Atlantis 48-passenger submarine, as featured in National Geographic television specials, where guests explore a 25-acre natural coral reef and its marine inhabitants! A new adventure awaits you at depths up to 100 feet! Enjoy the view in air-conditioned comfort and safety. 30 spaces reserved for international students. Sign up for international students starts on Thursday, August 20 at 8:00 am at the Student Life Center Outdoor Edventure Office. Cost: $25 (cash only). Space is limited! Click here for more information about the submarine trip and a short video.

HMSA Health Insurance Outreach for COFA Residents

Saturday, August 29, 2015
10:00 am - 1:00 pm

Campus Center Room 301

Representatives from HMSA will provide information to citizens of COFA (Compact of Free Association) nations about HMSA health insurance plans: how to use the plan, access care, and access other resources available. Co-sponsored by Micronesians United-Big Island and United Nations Association - Hawaii Chapter.

Mixed Plate: Dinner & Hawaiian Culture



Tuesday, September 8, 2015

5:30-8:00 pm

Campus Center Room 301

Are you interested in learning about Hawaiian and local cultures, values and history? 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. Free! Space is limited. If you sign up after the first 20 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 Workshop

Wednesday, September 16, 2015
4:00 pm, Student Services Center Room W-201

Designed for international students on F-1 visas who are planning on graduating from UH Hilo in Fall 2015 or Spring 2016, this workshop will provide information about "OPT" (Optional Practical Training). OPT allows you to work in the U.S. after you graduate for one year so that you can gain experience in your field of study. The workshop will explain what OPT is, how to apply for it, deadlines, etc. 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").

Global Ambassadors Meeting & Training

Global Ambassadors

Thursday, September 17, 2015 (Tentative date)
3:00 pm, Student Services Center Room W-201

We will discuss the details of the Global Ambassadors program, provide training, and begin to schedule visits to schools.

International Speaker Series

stick chart

Thursday, September 17, 2015
7:00 pm, Campus Center Room 301

"From Nuclear Exodus to Cultural Reawakening: Revitalizing Wave Navigation and Voyaging in the Marshall Islands"

Speaker: Joseph Genz, UH Hilo Anthropology Department

This free talk will discuss current revival efforts and traditional wave navigation in the Marshall Islands. Co-sponsored with the United Nations Association of the USA-Hawaii Chapter.

Meet Your Host Family

host family

Friday, September 18, 2015
5:30 pm, Student Services Center Room W-201

If you signed up for a host family, come to this gathering to meet your new family! Refreshments will be served.

Volcano Night Tour


Sunday, September 27, 2015
Meet at the Student Life Center at 5:00 pm, return to campus at 9:00 pm

Join the International Student Association and the Outdoor Edventure Program on a night tour at Volcanoes National Park. See the glow of lava as the summit crater, Halemaumau, continues to grow and send up voluptuous clouds of steam. See a subterranean pond of lava spilling out onto the crater floor. More information will be posted soon. Click here for current conditions at the park and to see videos.

Dolphin Quest Adventure Trip

dolphin questdolphin quest

Saturday, October 17, 2015 (tentative date)
Time to be announced

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. More information will be posted soon. Click here for more details about Dolphin Quest.

Global Lens International Film Festival

global lens

Expose. Engage. Inspire.

Monday-Thursday, October 19-22, 2015 (Tentative dates)
Time & Venue to be announced

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!

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)

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)

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

The Look of Silence ("Masterpiece" - New York Times / BBC / NPR)

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

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: To be announced

April 21: To be announced

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.