Programs for International Students and their Friends

International Student Association


"Unite, Serve, Educate"

The International Student Association (ISA) is UH Hilo's student club for international students and others who are interested in other cultures and peoples. The club engages in social and recreational activities throughout the year, performs service to the campus and local community, and organizes educational events. Each year ISA puts on International Nights, two nights of spectacular performances showcasing the many different cultures represented at UH Hilo.

Host Family Program

Are you interested in being connected with a family in the local Hilo community? The Host Family Program matches international students with families in the community to help international students learn more about Hilo, the Big Island, and Hawaii, as well as develop a "second" family here while you attend UH Hilo. Host families do not provide a place to live, but rather meet with you occasionally throughout the year for things like a home-cooked meal, trips around the island, shopping, and other fun and interesting things to do on the Big Island. If you are interested, please fill out and print the Host Family Request Form and submit it to the International Student Services & Intercultural Education office, or you can fill out the form and submit it electronically.

If you are a family living in the Hilo area and you are interested in hosting a UH Hilo international student, please fill out and print the Host Family Information Form and submit it to the International Student Services & Intercultural Education office, or you can fill out the form and submit it electronically.

Global Ambassadors

Global Ambassadors

"Making a World of Difference"

The Global Ambassadors Program provides an opportunity for UH Hilo international students to serve as "cultural ambassadors" in the local community. They present cultural, sociological and economic impressions of their societies to Big Island schools and to community professional and civic organizations.

One objective of the program is to help eradicate stereotypical ideas about other countries around the world by having cultural ambassadors enlighten and educate people about the many cultures represented on the UH Hilo campus. Another objective is to give international students more contact with the local culture. By being exposed to Native Hawaiian, local and American culture (ideology, values, customs, etc.), our international students attain a better understanding of the Hawaiʻi and of the United States. For further information contact Jim Mellon, Director of International Student Services & Intercultural Education.

To volunteer as a Global Ambassador, please fill out and print the Global Ambassador application and submit it to the International Student Services & Intercultural Education office, or fill out the application and submit it electronically.

Timor Leste Global AmbassadorJapanese Global AmbassadorsKorean Global Ambassador Korean Global Ambassador

International Buddy Program

International Friends

Are you interested in being connected with another UH Hilo who will help you get adjusted to UH Hilo and Hawaiʻi and help you learn about local and US American cultures? The International Buddy Program matches first-year international students with other students (mostly from Hawaiʻi and the US), and you meet informally throughout the semester as well as at monthly informal social gatherings. If you are an international student who would like to be matched with a buddy, please submit this form to the International Student Services & Intercultural Education office or the Center for Global Education & Exchange. If you are an American student who would like to volunteer as a buddy to a new international students, please read the roles and responsibilities of a buddy, and if interested, submit this application form.

Global Lens Film Series

The Global Lens film series is intended to promote intercultural understanding through film and to expose audiences to new voices from relatively unfamiliar parts of the world. The series will provide a platform for exceptional storytelling and open windows into the diverse world in which we live. The powerful, authentic narratives in the films can foster trust and respect between disparate cultures and mitigate the negative impacts of cultural prejudice, misunderstanding, and misperception. Check back for the schedule of films for the 2013-2014 academic year. Click here to see the schedule of films shown during the 2012-2013 year.

Global Lens Film Series 2012-2013

Global Cafe

Global CafeGlobal Cafe

Informal discussions, accompanied by coffee and tea, are held at the beginning of each semester for new international students to chat about topics such as cultural norms in Hawaiʻi and in the U.S., reocognizing and dealing with culture shock, and understanding and adapting to an American higher education system.

Mauna Kea Volunteers

The Mauna Kea Visitor Information Station (located at about 9,000 feet on Mauna Kea mountain) is looking for international students to volunteer. Many international students have volunteered in the past and have loved the work and found it very rewarding to meet visitors from around the world as well as learn about the stars, astronomy, and western and Native Hawaiian views of the world. Training and transportation to Mauna Kea is provided.

Click here for more information and for a volunteer application. Please contact E'Lisa Lee, the International Student Volunteer Coordinator, for more information.

Mauna Kea Volunteer

Mauna Kea