Jasmine Joao

Jasmine Joao

Transfer student majoring in Japanese and  minoring in History, shares why coming “home” to UH Hilo was one of the best decisions she ever made

I’m Japanese major with a minor in history. I graduate in the Spring 2021.

High School:
I attended Henry Perrine Baldwin High school on Maui.

Hometown City/State:
Well, I was born on Molokai and lived there for the first 5-ish years of my life before moving to Maui.

What would be your personal motto?
I realize this is a bad foot to start on but probably something along the lines of, “Expect the worst and be surprised by better.” Although contemplative nihilist, E.M. Cioran says it better than I ever could, saying, “Having always lived in the fear of being surprised by the worst, I have tried in every circumstance to get a head start, flinging myself into misfortune long before it occurred,” which I realize is rather pessimistic but it is honest. I commend all optimists, it is far easier to believe in nothing than to hold out the vague and foggy hope of something. When I grow up, I’d very much like to be an optimist, is that so much to hope for?

How do you think your friends and family would describe you?
I think my friends would say happy and organized and my family would tell me book-smart and chaotic. I’ll neither confirm or deny these assumed assessments. To do so would either be too congratulatory and pretentious or express a certain degree of self-loathing – both of which seem problematic. I’ll simply say that according to the first three results of a random adjective generator I am, “parched,” “hesitant,” and “aquamarine.” Which, all things considered, is fair. A round of applause for the random adjective generator. *Insert muted clapping*

What are your favorite hobbies, ways to spend your weekend?
Hobbies – who has the time nowadays? The more I think about this question and what my realistic answer would be, the more I realize how much time I spend in my own company. I enjoy reading non-fiction historical books, most certainly on the failings of the horrible 17th President of the United States Andrew Johnson, and a variety of other more topical novels. I’ve had an off and on affection for crocheting – all of my projects have some form of fault in them and yet crocheting has become a rather calming past-time lately. Continually, I am inclined to express an added inclination for baking but ask any of my friends and you’ll discover that while I may enjoy the idea, the product often doesn’t live up to my excitement. All I want to know how to bake is bread and yet I can hardly bake boxed brownies. It’s a work in progress.

What is a typical day like for you?
I was about to say that it depends on the day but I realized that the things in my day primarily remain the same but the order can vary. To start, I wake up around 6:30am, and then do some combination of tuning into classes, work meetings, and/ or club zoom meetings, starting in on one homework or the other, reading, answering an onslaught of emails, and drinking copious amounts of tea. In the evenings, I am delighted to speak with some combination of friends or family over the phone. I’m afraid it doesn’t get much more exciting than that, no grand schemes or bank robberies. Outside my window, the birds chirp, a couple down the street continues to fight, an old man sits at the corner of the block in the mid-afternoon, and children laugh as they ride their bikes in the street. It’s a quiet sort of contentment.

What are you happiest doing?
I’m happiest talking to people. I adore good conversation and company. There’s always so much to say and so much to discover about everyone. It gives me the greatest pleasure in meeting anyone who shares in the desire to talk about anything and everything all at once. There’s a great deal of good in silence as well, but it’s the joy of muddled understanding and excited exclamations or even the warmth of simply hearing about someone’s day.

How has your life been different than what you imagined?
Oh boy. At 5, I was sure I would become a princess-fashion-designer-author who wrote about fairies. At 10, however, I embraced practicality and decided on electrical engineering. After one book on how light bulbs work, I quickly gave that up. After reading a conspiracy book about the Big Bang at 11, I was sure that I would become an astrophysicist and solve the mysteries of the universe. I packed that dream up at 12 when I had the dramatic realization that my destiny was not in science, but law. I would practice law and live in a secluded cottage in the woods with two dogs. People, goodness, who needed to see them. I would work mainly remotely or commute in when needed. That dream of being a lawyer lasted all the way through high school and my first year of college. I prepped for exams, created spreadsheets for law schools, and studied LSAT flashcards. Then, as the pattern goes, I completely turned my plans on their non-existent heads. I didn’t want to be a lawyer and live oceans away from everyone that I knew and loved. I’m not completely sure what will come of my life but I can say for sure that I’m not going to be a princess-fashion-designer-author, electrical engineer, or astrophysicist. 🙂

How would you like to be remembered?
As a human? Is this to mean ‘remembered’ as if I died? Because if that’s the case, I’d like to not be remembered at all, at least not by a great many people. Many expectations and judgement comes along with being remembered. We all live as different versions of ourselves in other peoples’ memories. We aren’t ourselves. We are what they perceive us to be. It’s far too much pressure to hope to be remembered as anything extraordinary. Everyone does the best that they can and I’d hope I was kind to those that did know me. At least kind enough so that I don’t have a Scrooge-like ghost of christmas future moment where I see people that knew me dancing on my grave. That’d be just a tad unfortunate.

Do you have any regrets

What are your dreams?
Most recently I had a dream about being on a floating island made of bubble gum surrounded by a sea made of laundry soap and I had the distinct impression that everything smelled strongly of pineapple. But in all seriousness, I don’t have any strong impressions of what I want out of life besides happiness. I suppose that is the goal, isn’t it? I’d like to spend every Christmas with those I love and adore. I’d like to have a family of my own to bake for along with day trips to libraries and nights of Monopoly. I don’t think I have an exact dream, more a vague inclination that I’d like what everyone wants: to be happy. However, if we are dreaming big here, I’ll take a magic unicorn alongside my happiness.

What does your future hold?
Goodness. I haven’t the faintest idea. I think we like to believe in plans and the future we’d like to have but it all gets washed away. Nothing ever goes perfectly to plan. I can make as many projection graphs and spreadsheets as I’d like but I could still never tell you where I’ll be ten years from now or even two years from now. It’s all frightening and exciting, two emotions which give one the thrill and anxiety in pursuit of the unfathomable.

Why did you choose to attend UH Hilo?
That’s a whirlwind. I originally started college at Pacific University in Oregon back in 2018 right out of high school. It was the only school I applied to, I was sure that I would be happy and successful there. I was sure of it. When I got there, I went to classes, joined clubs, got a job, made friends – all the normal reasonable things one does. But I wasn’t happy. It felt like I should be happy, it was what I wanted, right? That was a question I asked myself. After my first year there, I went home to Maui for summer break. It was only three months, I had told myself. Three months and then I would be on a six-hour flight back to Oregon. Within the first month back, I laughed with my family again over countless games of scrabble, I sat under towering trees and stared at the skyline below with my friends, and I was happy. How could I go back? I transferred to UH Hilo at the end of June 2019, wanting to stay close to home without being at home. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

What are your favorite parts about being a student here at UH Hilo?
It’s hard to pick. Visiting the library and borrowing more books than I can carry. Chatting with friends at random tables and finding corners to study in. Signing up for a position as a General editor on a whim and discovering it’s one of your greatest joys. Late nights spent gluing poster boards together and everyone laughing the next day when the project deadline is extended. There’s a lot of good parts.

What have your experiences been like with students here?
Oh, wonderful. There isn’t much more to say besides wonderful. I have met some of the best people in my life here. There are so many people I know now that I can’t imagine ever not knowing. It’s been truly amazing and I will be forever a better person to have interacted with the other students here.

What campus clubs or activities are you involved in?
I’m currently the Editor-in-Chief of Hohonu, UH Hilo’s academic journal. I started as a General Editor at the end of the last school year. The previous team and Editor-in-Chief laid a wonderful foundation for the academic journal and we wouldn’t be in the position we are this year without all the support and guidance. The Academic journal annually publishes a body of student work as reflective of the current student body as possible. This year, especially with regard to Covid restrictions, much of the format for participating in activities has been limited but I’ve been very fortunate to still have met marvelous individuals to which I will be everly grateful and better for having known.

What is your favorite memory at UH Hilo?
I was sitting outside on one of the tables going down the hall between the library and K-building and there was a test to prepare for. Well, apparently a few of my classmates had the same idea to study along that hall and one by one we sort of all congealed together. Somehow a good half of the class ended up crammed together on two pushed together tables, all with our heads buried in books or flashcards as we muttered under our breaths. Every few minutes there’d be a loud exclamation of defeat from one person or the other and everyone else would stop for a moment to console them with phrases like, “As long as you don’t get less than 50%, you’re doing great,” or “If we all fail, the professor will probably let us retake the test.” I don’t know why I find that memory so endearing. I just do. It’s the thought of all coming together despite not knowing each other well. And the, “oh, I didn’t know you like that, too” moments that are so incredibly extraordinary.

For future UH Hilo students, is there any wisdom you would like to pass on? What would you want them to know?
I would want them to just remember to take care of themselves. College isn’t easy. You try and you try and that becomes exhausting. You deserve to take care of yourself just like you’d take care of anyone else. Call your friends. Call your family. Tell the people in your life how much they mean to you. It’s a long road and it’s harder to do anything alone. Remember that it’s okay to lean on people and be honest about what you need. It’s okay to ask for help, we’re all human and we all struggle. It doesn’t make you any less wonderful to acknowledge your limits and to give yourself some slack. All in all, be kind to others and don’t forget to be kind to yourself.