UH Hilo students, faculty to visit Japan to share Hawaiian culture and language

The UH Hilo contingency—all members fluent in Hawaiian language—will visit Tokyo and Hokkaido and participate in activities with students from Hokkaido University and Sapporo University.

Twenty-one students and two faculty members from the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo will take part in a nine-day, fully-funded trip to Japan this month as part of the Tomodachi Inouye Scholars program sponsored by the United States-Japan Council.

The Tomodachi Inouye Scholars program, created to honor the legacy of the late Senator Daniel K. Inouye, provides UH Hilo students the opportunity to spend Spring Break (March 19-27) in Japan to interact with their peers and share their Hawaiian language and culture. The program is open to undergraduate students at UH Hilo who speak, read, and write in Hawaiian.

Jim Mellon
Jim Mellon

“This is an amazing opportunity for our UH Hilo students to not only be exposed to a different country and culture, but to share the Native Hawaiian culture and language with others,” says Jim Mellon, director of international student services and intercultural education at UH Hilo. “The group members are wonderful ambassadors of UH Hilo and are living examples of Senator Inouye’s legacy with regard to his efforts at perpetuating indigenous languages and cultures.”

He adds, “We are incredibly honored and grateful to the US-Japan Council for selecting UH Hilo for this program.”

The 2016 cohort

UH Hilo students selected for the trip are Autumn Chong, Ursula Chong, Sophie Dolera, Dane Dudoit, Alexander Guerrero, Pomaikaʻi Iaea, Bridgette Ige, Micah Kealaiki, Kekaikaneolahoʻikeikonamanakalena Lindsey, Kawehi Lopez, Alohilani Maiava, Ashley Martin-Kalamau, Kelly Martin-Young, Noelle Miller, Isaac Pang, Pomaikai Ravey, Koa Rodrigues, Eric Taaca, Victoria Taylor, Temaʻuonuhuhiva Teikitekahioho-Wolff, and Abcde Zoller.

They will be joined by faculty members Yumiko Ohara, assistant professor of linguistics, and Kekoa Harman, assistant professor of Hawaiian studies, both from Ka Haka ʻUla O Keʻelikolani College of Hawaiian Language.

The trip

The UH Hilo contingent will visit historic and cultural sites in Tokyo and Hokkaido and participate in activities with students from Hokkaido University and Sapporo University. The students’ fluency in Hawaiian language and culture is a manifestation of and tribute to Inouye’s commitment and contributions to perpetuate indigenous cultures and languages in the U.S.

When participants return from the trip, they will have an opportunity to share their experience with their fellow classmates during a presentation held at the College of Hawaiian Language. They will invite the UH Hilo community to this event where the students will showcase the presentation they shared with their peers while in Japan and talk about how their experience in Japan impacted their understanding of Senator Inouye’s legacy in perpetuating the Native Hawaiian language and fostering connections while in Japan.


For additional information, call the Center for Global Education and Exchange at 932-7489.