PHOTOS: UH Hilo Tomodachi Scholars visit Japan, come back with stories of an incredible experience

The students, who shared Hawaiian language and culture with peers in Japan, will be giving a presentation about the experience on April 29, 2:00 p.m., at the College of Hawaiian Language. 

By Susan Enright.

Tomodachi Scholars gathered for group photo in front of indigenous structure.
Students at the Ainu Museum in Sapporo. The Ainu Museum is an outdoor museum that allows visitors to encounter the culture of Hokkaido’s indigenous people, the Ainu. More courtesy photos of the trip below, click to enlarge.

 

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

The Tomodachi Inouye Scholars Program is a unique youth exchange that perpetuates the legacy of the late Hawaiʻi U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye by providing American and Japanese university students with an opportunity to learn about each other’s countries and cultures.

The 21 scholars visited Tokyo and Hokkaido last month and met with the country’s indigenous Ainu population. The students and two faculty members took part in the trip to interact with their peers and to share their Hawaiian language and culture (and play in the snow!).

“The Tomodachi scholars hope to emulate the legacy of our kūpuna (elders) and Senator Inouye in reaching and interacting with the most distant worlds,” says Kekoa Harman, assistant professor of Hawaiian studies who served as co-chaperone of the program. “Through travel, education, language and cultural exchange, the participants in this experience from UH Hilo seek to be enlightened in truly understanding where we come from and how we are deeply connected to others even in a place as distant as Japan.”

From the Nāaoloa Tomodachi Inouye Scholars Program website:

Twenty-one students and two faculty members from the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo have been chosen to participate in the 2016 Tomodachi Inouye Scholars Program, administered by the U.S.-Japan Council, which honors the legacy of the late Senator Daniel Inouye. The Program reflects Senator Inouye’s passion for education and his commitment to the perpetuation of indigenous cultures and languages.

Majority of the students, and both of the kumu [teachers], chosen are from UH Hilo’s Ka Haka ʻUla o Keʻelikōlani, College of Hawaiian Language. A College, at which, all upper division courses are taught through the Hawaiian language. Some classes include phonetics and phonology, song writing, Hawaiian music, and sense of identity.

Ka Haka ʻUla O Keʻelikōlani’s cultural and language exchange program comes from a composition written by Larry Kimura in 2003 for the late Senator Daniel Inouye and Senator Daniel Akaka. Both Senators were very influential in creating bills and laws that have positively affected the Hawaiian language movement over the last thirty years.

The Nāaoloa program and its participating scholars hope to emulate the legacy of our kūpuna and the late Senator Inouye in reaching and interacting with the most distant worlds. Through travel, education, language and cultural exchange they seek to be enlightened in truly understanding where they come from and how they are deeply connect to others all around the world.

UH Hilo’s Tomodachi scholars are Autumn Chong, Ursula Chong, Sophie DoleraDane Dudoit, Alexander Guerrero, Pomaikaʻi Iaea, Bridgette Ige, Micah KealaikiKekaikaneolahoʻikeikonamanakalena 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.

Faculty member Yumiko Ohara, assistant professor of linguistics, served as co-chaparone.

Group photo with a statue in background.
At the Ainu Museum in Sapporo.

Presentation

The students will be sharing their Japan experience on Friday, April 29, from 2:00- 4:00 p.m., in the Lumi Pahiahia room at Haleʻōlelo, College of Hawaiian Language. The event is free and open to the public and UH community.

 

For more information or disability accommodations at the presentation, contact the Center for Global Education and Exchange.

 

About the writer of this story: Susan Enright is a public information specialist for the Office of the Chancellor and editor of UH Hilo Stories. She received her bachelor of arts in English and certificate in women’s studies from UH Hilo.