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International Student Services & Intercultural Education

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International Education

The University of Hawaiʻi: A Global University

The International Student Services & Intercultural Education (ISS & IE) program has two primary missions. The first is to assist international students with clarifying and attaining their academic and personal goals while complying with the regulations pertaining to their immigration status. ISS & IE serves as an interface between UH Hilo and international students in order to facilitate communication, understanding and appreciation between them. The second mission is to facilitate and assist all students at UH Hilo, regardless of national origin, with developing intercultural competence. Ultimately, the goals of international education are to advance learning and scholarship and to increase intercultural awareness, understanding and competency in our increasingly global community.

Information about applying for admission to UH Hilo can be found on the Admissions website.

Check out Study Guide to the States for an online, interactive resource to help international students navigate the international student process. Use this step-by-step guide to learn about the process of studying in the United States. Topics include what to consider if you want to study in the United States, how to apply for a visa to enter the United States, how to maintain your status while in the U.S., guidelines for traveling back home, and working in the U.S.

Exchange Students with flags representing their countries.

New International Students

If you have been accepted to UH Hilo for the Spring 2017 semester, View a list of important dates and things you need to do.

Upcoming Events & Activities

New International Student Orientation


Wednesday, January 4, 2017
9:00 am-1:00 pm at the Student Services Center Room W-201

All new international students must attend this meeting. Bring your passport. If you are a student on an F-1 visa, also bring your I-20 Form and proof of health insurance. ((Students from the FSM, Palau and Marshall Islands are not required to have health insurance.) At the meeting, we will discuss lots of important information that you need to know. You will get your UH student ID card and the required TB test. And you will get to know other new students! You do not have to sign up for the meeting and there is no fee. Breakfast and lunch will be provided. View a map of the UH Hilo campus.

"The Sacred Place Where Life Begins: Gwich'in Women Speak"

Sacred Place where Life Begins

Wednesday, January 11, 2017
UCB Room 100 at 5:30 pm

Special film screening event of the award winning short documentary film The Sacred Place Where Life Begins: Gwich'in Women Speak. Filmmaker and educator Aida Miho will be present to discuss the film. In the film Gwich’in women speak out for their sacred land. After the film screening, Miho will discuss her new video series Standing Rock Women Speak and her activism to save the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North and South Dakota. Free and open to the public.

Hapuna Beach Trip

hapuna beach

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Take a trip to one of the most beautiful beaches in the world! Sign up at the Student Life Center.

APIASF General Scholarship Application

Deadline to apply: January 18, 2017

UH Hilo undergraduate students of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander ethnicity who are US citizens, nationals or permanent residents or FSM, Marshall Islands or Palauan citizens are eligible to apply for this scholarship. The scholarship is for the 2017-2018 academic year and range from one-time awards of $2,500 to multo-year awards of up to $20,000. Visit the APIASF website for more information and to apply.

International Speaker Series

international speaker series

Thursday, January 19, 2017
7:00-8:00 pm in the Campus Center Room 301

Antimicrobial Resistance: A Global Threat

Speaker: Dr. Louis Ltief, UH Hilo College of Pharmacy

Resistance to antibiotics is an alarming increasing threat to mankind in the 21st Century. Over-utilization of current antibiotics combined with the lack of development of new ones could lead to emergence of bugs resistant to all known antibiotics. An effective mean to combat this potential crisis is the development of antimicrobial stewardship programs coordinated on a global scale.

Mixed Plate: A Cultural Conversation

mixed platemixed plate

Tuesday, January 24, 2017
5:30-8:00 pm in the Campus Center Room 301

Are you interested in learning about Hawaiian and local cultures, values and history? New international students are invited to come to a casual "mixed plate" dinner featuring local food and the opportunity to learn about Hawaiian and cultures from Native Hawaiian students. Space is limited to the first 25 international students who sign up. Free!

Submarine Trip

submarine trip

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Explore the underwater treasures on an Atlantis submarine trip off the coast of Kona. Cost: $25. Sign up at the Student Life Center.

International Nights

UH Hilo International Nights 2017

Samoans at UH Hilo International Nights 2016

Friday & Saturday, February 10 & 11, 2017
7:30 pm at the UH Hilo Performing Arts Center
(View a map of the UH Hilo campus)

Visit the International Nights website for more information.

Employment Options in the U.S. after Graduation

Tuesday, February 14, 2017
4:00-5:00 pm in the Student Services Center Room W-201

International students on F-1 visa are you are invited to come to this workshop to learn about your option to work in the US after graduation. We will discuss OPT (Optional Practical Training), which allows international students to work in the US after graduation for one year or more so that you can gain experience in your field of study. In addition, an attorney who specializes in immigration law may also be present to discuss the H1-B visa (commonly referred to as a "work visa").

International Speaker Series

international speaker series

Thursday, February 16, 2017
7:00-8:00 pm in the Campus Center Room 301

"Garden Stories in Hawaii"

Speaker: Dr. Kathryn Besio, UH Hilo Geography & Environmental Studies Department

Dr. Besio will draw upon ongoing research with home gardeners and their garden stories. The stories help us hear from gardeners about their wide ranging motivations for growing food and how they organize home garden spaces. She will talk about how these relatively intimate spaces of homes and gardens link to broader issues.

FSM President & Delegation Meeting with FSM Citizens

Tuesday, February 21, 2017
5:00 pm in UCB (University Classroom Building) Room 100

Meeting for FSM citizens with President Peter M. Christian and his delegation. The delegation is comprised of the President, Secretary of Foreign Affairs Lorin S. Robert, Secretary of Justice Joses R. Gallen, Chief of Staff Leo A. Falcam and a representative from the FSM Consulate General office in Hawaiil.

Hawai'i: The Untold Story


Wednesday, February 22, 2017
5:00-6:15 pm in the Science & Technology Building (STB ) Room 225

All international students are invited to attend this free informational and insightful presentation on the political history of Hawaiʻi, including a rarely presented historical account that has intriguing implications for Hawaiʻi today. Presentation by Dr. Keanu Sai.

International Women's Day Film: "Eleanor, First Lady of the World"

International Women's Day

Wednesday, March 8, 2017
5:00 pm in UCB Room 100

In observance of International Women’s Day, all are invited to view the film Eleanor: First Lady of the World, an exceptional documentary film on the extraordinary life on one of our most influential “First Ladies.” The film tells the story of how Eleanor Roosevelt guided the creation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and managed to secure the approval of the 192 members of the United Nations at that time. We invite you to learn more about this remarkable woman and her many accomplishments and the heritage of wisdom she has left for all of us. Click here to learn more about International Women’s Day and this year’s theme: Be Bold for Change!

International Student Scholarship Application Deadline for 2017-2018

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Deadline to apply for the UH Hilo International Student Scholarship for 2017-2018. (Note: New students must first apply for admission and be accepted to UH Hilo to be considered for the scholarship. New students do not need to submit an application for the scholarship -- they will automatically be considered for the scholarship. Scholarships for new students will be awarded on a rolling basis throughout the spring semester.)

International Speaker Series

international speaker series

Thursday, March 16, 2017
7:00-8:00 pm at Hale'olelo (College of Hawaiian Language Building)

Indigenous Wellbeing Through Education

Speaker: Dr. Keiki Kawaiʻaeʻa, UH Hilo Ka Haka ʻUla O Keʻelikōlani

At the center of our life spirit is our mauli. Much like a flame, the vitality of our mauli can be seen as an illuminating light or a flicker of a struggling flame. Education can transform lives and serves as a critical context for cultivating our sense of well-being (mauli ola). This presentation will provide a framework for indigenous well-being and some applied examples, strategies and insights to consider as it applies to education in Hawaiʻi, teacher education and accreditation.

beyond black and white

Friday, April 7, 2017
5:00-7:00 pm at the Student Services Center Room W-201

Beyond Black & White: The Identity Construction and Political Attitudes of Biracial Americans

Speaker: Dr. Lauren Davenport, Professor of Political Science at Stanford University

Dolphin Quest Trip

dolphin quest

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Join the International Student Association (ISA) for an encounter with dolphins! Feel the thrill of a lifetime as you touch and feed a dolphin. Swim with dolphins in a shallow, waist-deep lagoon on the property of the Hilton Waikoloa Hotel (about 90 minutes from Hilo). The day will include learning about ocean ecosystems in Hawaiʻi. You will also be allowed to spend some time snorkeling in the Hilton lagoon. Visit the Dolphin Quest website for more details. Cost: $30 (cash only, no refunds). (The regular cost is about $200, so this is a huge discount!) Space is limited to 36 students. Sign up at the International Student Services office in Room E-202 in the Student Services Center.

Meeting about "Masters of the Currents"

Tuesday, April 11, 2017
5:00 pm at the Campus Center Room 307 (Pacific Islander Student Center)

Students & community members from the FSM, Palau & Marshall Islands are invited to attend a meeting about a theatrical producation called Masters of the Currents. Ova Saopeng and Leilani Chan will discuss the project. They have a theatre company in Los Angeles called TeAda. They will be shaping a new work to be performed in Honolulu and, eventually, Hilo. They will be seeking Micronesian storytellers, actors, musicians, dancers, and poets. Here is your chance to be a part of the development of a new theatrical performance called Masters of the Currents. Masters of the Currents is a project to give voice to the Micronesian community in Hawaii. The project will explore and highlight the joys, challenges and complexity from the community towards better understanding and acceptance. Workshops are currently scheduled in July and will culminate in a public presentation and community dialogue on July 30, 2016 at Honolulu Theatre for Youth’s Tenney Theatre. Alliance for Drama Education based in Honolulu and TeAda Productions based in Los Angeles have over 20 years experience creating and working with refugee and immigrant communities. Their aligned mission is to educate and advocate communities to utilize the power of performing arts into their daily lives. In addition they are working with Pacific Voices, an intergenerational youth program of Kokua Kalihi Valley. Come and learn more about this project!

Meeting for International Exchange Students

Tuesday, April 11, 2017
5:15 pm at UCB Room 112

Required meeting for international exchange students (unless you have class at that time). We will discuss important information about getting academic records for your home school, issues to consider prior to leaving, and answer questions about the end of your exchange program. We will also talk about our Memory Book, which is an electronic scrapbook made up of individual pages from our exchange students.

Merrie Monarch Hula Festival Show & Parade

merrie monarch

Ho'ike (free hula performances along with performances from other cultures)

Wednesday, April 19, 2017
Leave campus at 5:00 pm and return around 10:00 pm


Saturday, April 22, 2017
Leave campus at 9:30 am and return around 1:00 pm

Once a year, Hilo hosts the Merrie Monarch Festival, a week-long series of activities centered around the premier hula competition in the world. The Festival will begin next week. Hula dancers from all over Hawai'i as well as dancers from Japan, the U.S. mainland, and other countries come to Hilo to participate in the festival. Tickets for the shows on Thursday, Friday & Saturday night are sold out. If there is enough interest, the International Student Association (ISA) will provide transportation to two of events happening next week:

1. Ho’ike (free hula performances along with performances from other cultures): Wednesday, April 19. Leave campus at 5:00 pm and return around 10:00 pm. (Note: Since this is a very popular event and it is free, there is no guarantee that everybody will be able to get in.)
2. Parade in downtown Hilo: Saturday, April 22. Leave campus at 9:30 am and return around 1:00 pm.

If you want to sign up for either or both events, please sign up online by Friday, April 14 at the link in the email sent to your UH email address on April 9. If there is enough interest, we will confirm the trips and let you know. Free! Space is limited.

End of the Year Party!

summer dive

Monday, May 1, 2017
3:00-7:00 pm at the Student Life Center swimming pool

Take some time away from studying for exams and writing papers to celebrate the end of the year! Free pizza, snacks and drinks! Music, games and fun! End the school year with great memories and a great start to your summer! Free!

International Student Association (ISA)


ISA is a student club for international students and their friends. The club's motto is "Unite, Serve, Educate." The club organizes trips, social events and service opportunities throughout the year, as well as UH Hilo's annual International Nights. Visit the International Student Association website for more information.

ISA Officers for 2016-2017:

  • Flag of Papua New Guinea
  • Flag of Palau Felicia Andrew (Palau) - President
  • Flag of Japan Misaki Hirayama (Japan) - Treasurer
  • Flag of East Timor Josefina Pereira (Timor-Leste) - Secretary
  • Flag of the Federated States of Micronesia Axel Defngin (FSM) - Volunteer Coordinator
  • Flag of the Federated States of Micronesia Bertha Lotte (FSM) - Volunteer Coordinator
  • Flag of the Marshall Islands Rudy Milne (Marshall Islands) - Volunteer Coordinator
  • Flag of the Federated States of Micronesia Taeliza Perez (FSM) - Volunteer Coordinator
  • Flag of the Marshall Islands Risa Kabua Myazoe (Marshall Islands) - Social Media Coodinator
  • ISA Officers 2016-2017

Follow ISA on Facebook , Twitter & Instagram (@uhhisa)!

Nandar's Story

Mya Yee Nandar
Mya Yee Nandar

Check out this fascinating story (A Journey of 7,000 Miles Began With a Single Snake) by Mya Yee Nandar, a UH Hilo student from Burma (Myanmar), featured in the International Student Voice magazine. Also check out her two-part story Like Crabs in a Basket. Nandar was also interviewed on BBC's One Square Mile.


About the Director

Jim Mellon
Jim Mellon, Ph.D.
Jim Mellon has been the Director of International Student Services & Intercultural Education since 2011. Jim earned his bachelor's degree from Duke University and master's degree from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, where he was immersed in intercultural programs as a grantee with the East-West Center. He previously served as the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs & Dean of Students at UH Hilo.

Goals: Facilitate the success of international students and promote the development of intercultural competence among all students with an emphasis on social justice.

Did You Know? He swam 28.5 miles around New York City, won the 10-mile Maui channel swim from Lanaʻi to Mauʻi, competed in the Ironman Triathlon World Championships four times, and lived and worked on the island of Pohnpei in Micronesia as a volunteer teacher for three years.