With a focus on celebrating other cultures’ food, history, music and scenery, International Education Week activities at UH Hilo are designed to share international education with the entire Vulcan community.
Events celebrating International Education Week are happening this week at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo. The events, hosted by UH Hilo’s Center for Global Education and Exchange Nov. 16 through 19 both online and on campus, offer something fun for every student.
With a focus on celebrating other cultures’ food, history, music and scenery, the activities are designed to share international education with the entire Vulcan community.
Mika Odaira, a junior at UH Hilo and an advisor for the Study Abroad Program, says the goal of International Education Week is to celebrate the benefits of international education and cultural exploration.
“IEW aims to share the essence of cultural exploration and excitement with students in the U.S. who may not have had much international exposure,” says Odaira, a Waiākea High School graduate now majoring in business administration.
Studying abroad is a great opportunity for students to experience new cultures, expand their educational horizons, and grow as individuals both professionally and personally. Growing up in a country where going to a university was a major privilege, Odaira is eager to share that opportunity with all of her peers.
“I feel incredibly lucky to have moved to the U.S. where opportunities like study abroad programs are readily available to all undergraduate students,” she says. “I studied abroad in Japan last year and I got to experience first-hand what it’s like to immerse in another culture. It was such a fun and exciting journey.”
Alongside Director of Global Education Carolina Lam and Director of Global Exchange Todd Shumway, Odaira and her fellow study abroad advisors Jessie Ladouceur and Teagan Maher planned this year’s International Education Week events.
“As an international student, International Education Week is a great time to not only share a bit of our cultures but also to explore those of our peers,” says Maher, a South African international degree-seeking student.
Ladouceur, a senior majoring in anthropology, is working on increasing the visibility of International Education Week through collaborating with others on the on-campus University Radio Hilo station and at the Campus Center dining hall.
Odaira hopes the events will capture the benefits of international education. “These events highlight the different major themes in cultural exploration; the food, history, music, and scenery,” she says.
International Food Spotlight
The International Food Spotlight is a week-long event on campus that shares unique dishes from around the world. Every day this week at UH Hilo’s main dining room, Sodexo food services will be serving specials from five countries.
Reid Kusano, the dining room’s catering and retail manager, designed the international menu this week. He and his team aim to serve dishes that promote cultural celebration and bring a sense of home to international students at UH Hilo.
“We know that we may not be able to 100 percent match the taste [international students] are used to, but it is our hope that we can at least make them feel a little more settled here in Hilo,” says Kusano.
Sodexo began International Education Week with flavorful dishes that evoked instant vacations to Puerto Rico and Thailand. The rest of the week’s menu consists of dishes from across Europe including France (Nov. 17) and Spain (Nov. 18). With vegetarian options available, there is a plate for every student to enjoy.
International Trivia Night
The center also is sharing the rich history of the many cultures explored by study abroad through their International Trivia Night. Thursday, Nov. 18, the center will host a trivia night on campus in University Classroom Building, room 127.
Trivia Night aims to show appreciation for other cultures as well as educate students through history, interesting facts, and unique characteristics. Students can sign up here to participate.
Music Around the Globe
Music Around the Globe is one of the week’s online events. Students are submitting songs to a Spotify playlist available for all students to tune into.
The center has collected an array of music from cultures such as Japan, Korea, and Spain. The playlist is a great opportunity for students to get involved online with International Education Week in a fun and unique way. To tune in, the playlist is here.
International Photo Contest
Another online event the center is hosting this week is the International Photo Contest. Students submitted photos from their study abroad, vacation, or any travel experience. The photos matched the events’ five themes; “A different kind of season,” “Alive at night,” “Live like a local,” “A world of many colors,” and “Past meets present.”
Study abroad advisor Maher is running the contest, a friendly competition that gives all UH Hilo students the opportunity to showcase their international travels.
With submissions closed on November 14, students can now vote on their favorites here. This photo contest allows students to share how they saw and experienced cultures from around the world. The contest allows both online and in person students to get a glimpse into other worlds and share in the beauty of other cultures’ food, architecture, and traditions.
Forum on International Online Learning
A virtual COIL Forum was held on Nov. 17. COIL is the acronym for Collaborative Online International Learning, a teaching method for professors to virtually team teach and collaborate with faculty and students in other countries. Several UH Hilo faculty have already adopted COIL projects into their classes and are now regularly working with students and faculty from Japan, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Russia, and Oman as part of their classes. The COIL Forum held Wednesday allowed faculty who are using COIL to share how it benefits their classes and UH Hilo students.
Governor David Ige and First Lady Dawn Ige recorded a short video celebrating International Education Week since it is a national and state-wide event.
— University of Hawaii System (@UHawaiiNews) November 15, 2021
In person or online, International Education Week at UH Hilo is a great opportunity for students (and faculty!) to experience cultural exploration. The center’s staff and collaborators encourage both local and international students to participate and share their wants and ideas for the expansion of cultural exploration and celebration.
By Elena Espinoza, an English major also earning a certificate in teaching English as a second language.