The course will feature scholars from Hawai‘i and Eurasia, giving students exposure to international topics, studies, and literature that will increase their global awareness and understanding.
By Susan Enright.
With a grant from a non-profit dedicated to increasing cooperation throughout Eurasia and beyond, a writing intensive English class (Multicultural Literature 257) at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo will be taught this fall semester by Patsy Iwasaki, assistant professor of English, and will feature a collective of scholars from Hawai‘i and Eurasia. UH Hilo is one of 15 universities in the United States among 687 universities in 58 countries receiving a Eurasia Foundation (from Asia) grant to support international literary and educational lectures.
“This collaboration will expand, strengthen, and enrich our diverse, multicultural, interdisciplinary, and international learning and student experiences at UH Hilo,” says Iwasaki, who designed the course to include not only multicultural lecturers from UH Hilo but also from Spain, South Korea, Japan, and other Eurasian countries. The course is hybrid, meaning it includes both in-person and online classes.
The Eurasia Foundation (from Asia) is a non-profit organization headquartered in Tokyo with the goal to “contribute to the elimination of all conflicts in the world and the creation of a harmonious and peaceful society for everyone on earth.” The foundation offers grant support for university courses that focus on topics such as as multicultural literature.
Iwasaki says Hawai‘i Island is an ideal place for the teaching of this type of multicultural scholarship because the multicultural society that developed within the indigenous Hawaiian culture provides an excellent framework for the Eurasia Foundation course.
“Not only does the state’s location in the middle of the Pacific make it a hub of Eastern and Western cultures, but also the island culture itself has a very long and deep history of migration from Asia and Europe,” explains Iwasaki. “Large groups of immigrants recruited since the 18th century from China, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Portugal, and other Eurasian countries came to work on Hawai‘i’s sugar plantations.”
Further, she says, this type of interdisciplinary scholarship fulfills UH Hilo’s mission, goals, and educational objectives of international and multicultural advocacy and diversity.
The course is a survey of classic and contemporary literature of diverse cultural groups, as well as the historical, social, and cultural frameworks and their application and impact in regional and global contexts. Iwasaki says with the guest lecturers this semester, the course will give students exposure to international topics, studies, and literature that will increase their global awareness and understanding. This in turn will help students gain progressive and peaceful global leadership skills.
“This gathering of impressive scholars and diverse presenters for the course this semester will increase global learning, knowledge, understanding, perspectives, and collaboration, and will greatly inspire students,” says Iwasaki.
The main objectives of the class this semester are to engage students in topics and literature from Eurasia and beyond, and to use Hawai‘i’s deep history of migration from Asia and Europe as a framework for dialogue and study. Building on this international and cross-cultural dialogue, students will be asked to use their analytical and critical thinking skills to find deeper meaning in the lectures, discussions, and materials presented in class.
Students also will be asked to develop their skills of observation, listening, research, and inquiry about events, news, and issues found within the Eurasian community, and to be able to write clearly and effectively about their discoveries.
A world of speakers
The course kicks off the first three weeks of the semester with guest lecturers from UH Hilo:
- Assistant Professor of Communication Colby Miyose (who will speak on K-Dramas, K-Pop, and Mukbang: Hallyu as National Branding).
- Assistant Professor of English Leanne Day (Exploring Multicultural Paradise in Contemporary Hawai‘i’s Literature).
- Assistant Professor of English Francis Dumanig (Mother Tongue Based Multilingual Education in the Philippines).
Other UH Hilo faculty lecturing later in the semester are:
- Professor of English Seri Luangphinith will speak about her work on Korean immigration to Hawai‘i Island (see story “Book explores the history of Korean immigrants to Hawai‘i Island“)
- Assistant Professor of English Iwasaki, designer of the course, will talk about multicultural literature using her own graphic novel, Hāmākua Hero: A True Plantation Story, which she wrote and is illustrated by UH Hilo alumnus Avery Berido (see story “Patsy Iwasaki’s graphic novel sheds light on immigrant experience“).
International lecturers and their topics include:
- Juan Antonio Sánchez Jiménez (The First Mangaka: the World and Art of Katsushika Hokusai), Asun López-Varela (Multicultural Literature in India), and Xiana Sotelo (Narratives of Environmental Justice) from Complutense University Madrid.
- Byong-soon Chun (Insecurity in East Asia in the Context of Eurasian Community) and Soon-ok Myong (From the Quasi-War Regime to a Peace Regime on the Korean Peninsula?) from Al Farabi Kazkh National University, Almaty, Republic of Kazakhstan.
- Weijie Song (Environmental Objects and Chinese Eco Writing) and Xiaojue Wang (Cultural Cold War Studies) from Rutgers University.
Designing the course
To design the course for this semester with support from the Eurasia Foundation (from Asia) grant, Iwasaki worked with the UH Hilo English department and the university’s Center for Global Education and Exchange, as well as a faculty member familiar with the Eurasia Foundation and partner institutions. She notes that UH Hilo Chancellor Bonnie Irwin and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Kris Roney “are enthusiastically supportive.”
“They are looking forward to offering the course this semester on the UH Hilo campus, welcoming noted academic faculty and research scholars from around the world,” says Iwasaki.
By Susan Enright, a public information specialist for the Office of the Chancellor and editor of UH Hilo Stories.