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Fujisaki Student EDventure tour kicks-off July 26

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Date: Tuesday, July 23, 2002
Contact: Judith Fox-Goldstein, (808) 974-7555

For Immediate Release

East meets West this week when a delegation of high school students and dignitaries from Japan's Fujisaki Prefecture visits the Big Island for a four-day educational excursion.

From July 26-29, 2002, approximately 18 students, accompanied by representatives from the Fujisaki Board of Education and teachers from Fujisaki High School, will visit Kilauea volcano, stargaze, dance the hula, learn to cook "Hawaiian Style," explore marine life, and study the arts of chanting and pa`u drumming. The Fujisaki visit is an extension of the educational and cultural tours promoted through the award winning Hawaiian EDventure program, run by the University of Hawai`i at Hilo Conference Center.

"Experiential learning has its own unique way of teaching, breaking down language barriers and bridging cultural differences," said Conference Center Director Judith Fox-Goldstein. "When these students are carving pa`u drums, they are learning the Hawaiian language and culture. Their interaction with volcanologists exposes them to hands-on science. And their participation in service learning projects, like planting trees in Ookala, gives back to the community."

This week's trip is the long-awaited follow-up to last summer's highly successful visit by a group of students and translators from Fujisaki Middle School. The two communities are also linked by Hiroshi Karoji, managing director of the Subaru telescope project, who hails from Fujisaki and is helping to arrange the current tour.

"The Fujisaki students and teachers would like to come at least twice a year, and originally planned to return in January. Unfortunately, the events of 9-1-1 sidelined those plans," Fox-Goldstein said. Hawai`i, with its heavy reliance on tourism, was especially hard hit when last year's terrorist attacks in New York and Washington D.C. curtailed visitor traffic from Japan. But programs like the Fujisaki experience could go a long way toward both recovering and increasing Hawai`i's share of this coveted market.

"One of the most significant things we can do in the post 9-1-1 period is to break down cultural barriers, promote international exchanges and relations with other countries, and perpetuate the idea that Hawai`i is defined not by division, but by diversity," Fox-Goldstein said. "This program does that, while promoting UH President Evan Dobelle's goal of expanding edu-tourism."

The Fujisaki Tour, like other EDventure programs, has become a multi-faceted recruiting tool as students reside with host families who are invited to participate in all the activities, thus giving the University valuable exposure. At the same time, it provides obvious economic benefits through partnerships with local businesses and industries.

Fox-Goldstein believes the educational market is one area where Hawai`i can expand its reach in Japan. She notes that each year, approximately 700,000 "Shugaku Ryoko," or study abroad students, travel outside of Japan, and Hawai`i can certainly develop this market.

"The Japanese save money to study abroad the way that American families save for college," Fox-Goldstein explained. "Traditionally, Hawai`i hasn't been a major competitor for these students, but with programs like this, it is becoming more of what they are looking for in terms of educational and cultural-based programs. Therefore, the potential for expansion is quite significant."

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