Three UH Hilo students study abroad on scholarships from host countries

LiAnn Yamamoto and Keola Spencer are studying at universities in Japan, and Sienna Wareham is at university in Korea.

By Susan Enright

LiAnn Yamamoto stands with friend at stone carving with Japanese lettering.
From left, LiAnn Yamamoto and a classmate from Kaua‘i stand next to their college sign, “Ryukyu Daigaku,” on the first day of classes at the University of Ryukyus, Okinawa. Another classmate taking the photo is also from Kaua‘i. “They both became some of my closest friends here,” says Yamamoto. “While living here, I’m exposed to the Okinawan culture completely and sometimes when I think about home I get a little homesick. But having friends from Hawai‘i helps me cope with this problem.”

Three students from the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo are studying abroad with scholarships awarded by their host countries. LiAnn Yamamoto and Keola Spencer are studying at universities in Japan, and Sienna Wareham is at a university in Korea.

LiAnn Yamamoto

Yamamoto is studying at the University of the Ryukyus, Okinawa, on a scholarship awarded through the Inter-University Exchange Project sponsored by MEXT, a scholarship program for United States citizens funded by the Japanese government.

Yamamoto, a Waiakea High School graduate who won the 109-pound judo state title in 2018, is now a sophomore majoring in Japanese studies.

“While studying abroad I am taking many language courses,” she says in a recent email. “I’m also taking Okinawa culture and history to learn a little more about my host country.”

“By studying abroad, I’m becoming a more independent and confident person,” she says. “This will help my overall education because I’m more responsible in trying my best to learn as much as possible. Also, learning Japanese in Japan is definitely a plus for my major!”

Plate of Japanese food, fruit and vegetables, rice, fried fish, chopsticks on plate.
A typical meal for student in Japan. Photo by LiAnn Yamamoto.

The two other students are Keola Spencer, from O‘ahu, now at Hokkaido University on a MEXT scholarship, and Sienna Wareham, from the continental United States, attending Hankuk University of Foreign Studies on a Korea Global Scholarship. Watch this space for more information about their studies.

Carolina Lam, director of global education at the UH Hilo Center for Global Education and Exchange, says, “I am hoping other students will see that there are several funding sources to study abroad and to not let finances deter them from going.”

Update: Photo essay by Sienna Wareham, Nov. 5, 2019

Photo essay: UH Hilo business major studies in South Korea


Story by Susan Enright, 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.