International Student Services

International Student Services

International Education

The University of Hawaiʻi: A Global University

International Student Services (ISS) supports international students with achieving their academic and personal goals while complying with the regulations pertaining to their immigration status. ISS serves as an interface between UH Hilo and international students to facilitate communication, understanding and appreciation between international students and the UH Hilo community. ISS also aims 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.

Students from different countries holding flags

Know Before You Go: Travel During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Due to the changing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, International Student Services recommends that students carefully consider travel plans. If travel is not necessary or urgent, it is best not to travel at this time. Effective January 26, 2021, all travelers arriving in the United States must show proof of a negative COVID-19 test (done no more than 3 days before you travel) to the airline before you board a flight to the U.S. (or show documentation of recovery from COVID-19). For international travelers coming to Hawai'i, only tests from Trusted Testing Partners will be accepted to bypass the State’s 10-day traveler quarantine. Before traveling, consult with the ISS Director and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention's information for travel and Safe Travels Hawai'i websites. Another resource to consult is the National Association of Foreign Student Administrators.

New International Students

If you have been accepted to UH Hilo, view a list of important dates and things you need to do. Also check out Study Guide to the States for an online, interactive resource to help international students navigate through 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.

Upcoming Events & Activities

Resilient Pacific: Cultural Connections among People from the Micronesian Region as Protective Factors

Micronesian peoples

Wednesday, September 16, 2020
12:00-1:00 pm by Zoom

Presentation by Rebecca Stotzer of the UH Manoa School of Social Work. Diverse people from the geographic region of Micronesia present one of the newest and fastest growing groups of newcomers in Hawai'i, but many people from Micronesia face significant hardships when they migrate. This talk will examine data collected from Micronesians living in Hawai'i to assess their experiences with anti-Micronesian bias, as well as examining both anxiety and depression. Given the stressors associated with migration, this analysis also examines how feeling pride and connection to cltures of origin can serve as protective factors for people from the region and can be a source of resilience and strength.

Working in the U.S. After Graduation

Work in the USA

Wednesday, September 16, 2020
4:00-5:00 pm online via Zoom

If you are planning on graduating in December (or May), you are invited to come to a workshop to learn about your option to work in the U.S. after graduation. Learn OPT (Optional Practical Training) and H1-B visas ("work visas"). Contact the Director of International Student Services for the Zoom link and passcode.

Resilience in Palau

Rock islands in Palau

Wednesday, September 23, 2020
12:00-1:00 pm via Zoom

While Palau is one of the last COVID-free countries on Earth, it has not been unaffected by the ongoing pandemic. This presentation by Elsei Tellei will endeavor to describe the current climate in Palau, sharing how Palauans are already thinking about how to be more resilient both during and after Coronavirus. In particular, we will talk about some work ongoing for the Palau National Marine Sanctuary and how work is being done to empower locals to take control of the domestic pelagic fishery, for both economic diversification and food security.

Resilient Pacific: Understanding Adaptive Capacity in Micronesian Fishing Communities

man holding fish

Wednesday, September 30, 2020
12:00-1:00 pm via Zoom

Free online presentation by Supin Wongbusarakum, Coastal Fisheries Social Scientist with the Pacific Island Community, and Matt Gorstein, Coastal Economics Specialist with the South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium.

East-West Center Insights with David Panuelo, FSM President

EWC Insights featuring Pacific Leaders: October 13, 2020 at 5 pm Hawaii Standard Time with His Excellency David Panuelo, President of the Federated States of Micronesia

Tuesday, October 13, 2020
5:00 pm (online)

Join Ambassador Karena Lyons, East-West Center Vice President and Director of the Pacific Islands Development Program, as she hosts His Excellency David W. Panuelo, President of the Federated States of Micronesia on this free online event.

Mental Health Conversations in the Pacific Islander Communities: Setting Boundaries

Mental health conversations

Thursday, October 15, 2020
3:00 pm Hawai'i time via Zoom

Online event facilitated by Vailupe Ma'aele. Hosted by the Oceanic Art Collective. Join us as we explore how cultural expectations affect setting healthy boundaries and mental health. The event will feature a panel of Pacific Islanders sharing their experiences on this issue. Contact for the link.

Kakou: Let's Work it Out

conflict resolution day: an annual international celebration

Friday, October 16, 2020
5:45-7:00 pm via Zoom

Free workshop on conflict resolution skills in observance of International Conflict Resolution Day featuring speaker T. Ilihia Gionson, Board President of the Hawaii Island United Way and Principal, Hiehie Communications. When we approach issues with a clear vision and focus, grounded in aloha for the people and places affected by the issue, we can express our values and concerns in a productive way. In this interactive session, we will explore examples of individual and community advocacy that resulted in positive change in Hawaii and beyond. Take away some communication skills for the real world--no matter the media--that you can use with aloha.

Hōkūleʻa: The Revival Begins, 1975-1980

Hawaiian canoe

Friday, October 23, 2020
4:00-5:30 pm via Zoom

The Ama OluKai Foundation and ‘Imiloa are pleased to offer this virtual presentation. This presentation showcases the formative years of the Polynesian Voyaging Society and the iconic voyaging canoe, Hōkūleʻa. A panel of crew members will share their stories and experiences associated with the formative years of the Polynesian Voyaging Society and their journey on the Hōkūleʻa.

Bearing Witness to Climate Change: Voices from the Pacific

island with dry beach

Friday, October 23, 2020
8:00-9:30 pm Hawai'i time online

Pacific islanders from across Oceania will share community experiences of climate change and their messages of environmental peace. After the testimonies, participants will have the chance to engage directly with the speakers through interactive discussion groups.

Celebrate Micronesia Festival

Girl from Micronesia dancing

Saturday, October 24, 2020
9:00 am-4:00 pm online

The festival showcases traditional and contemporary art, dance, poetry, fashion and music of the people and cultures of Micronesia. There will be performances, poetry readings, demonstrations, fashion and cultural exhibits, live talks and panel discussions. This celebration is hosted by the Bishop Museum in partnership with Hawai'i-based Micronesian community leaders and organizations, and the East-West Center. The festival will be held virtually and is free and open to the public. Watch the live stream on Facebook.

Indigenous Micronesia vs Global Climate Change

Micronesian canoe

Saturday, October 31, 2020
12:00-2:00 am Hawai'i time online

Documentary film screening presented by the Rotary Peace Fellowship Association to address the importance of traditional knowledge in the battle to save the planet from environmental breakdown.

Blue Pacific Futures

Meg Taylor

Monday, November 2, 2020
12:00 pm via Zoom

Featuring Dame Meg Taylor, Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum.

Community Service Activity with the Food Basket

The food basket:  Hawaii's food bank

Tuesday, November 3, 2020
8:30 am-2:30 pm (lunch provided)

Give back to and serve the local community by doing some volunteer work at the Food Basket! Check your UH email for details, including signing up.

International Education Week

Two young girls.  Indigenous languages

November 16-20, 2020

Celebrate the amazing diversity at UH Hilo during International Education Week! This year we will focus on languages as we look forward to the decade of the United Nations' International Decade of Indigenous Languages. Check out the short on-demand language lesson on the ISA YouTube channel!

Health Insurance Enrollment for Pacific Islanders

health insurance

November 1-December 15, 2020

Once-a-year opportunity for Pacific Islanders to apply for low-cost health insurance. Contact Kuʻu at (808) 348-4410 or Rachelle at (808) 896-5051 to set up a virtual meeting to apply.

Ku'u Lei Hilo

Hawaiian dancers

Wednesday, December 2, 2020
2:00-3:00 pm (online)

Get an introduction to Hawaiian language from Native Hawaiian Malu Dudoit.

Orientation for New International Students

welcome international students

Thursday, January 7, 2021
8:00 am at the Student Services Center Room W-201

Meet new international students at this special orientation session for new international students! Learn about important things you need to know as your begin your journey at UH Hilo. Breakfast and lunch will be provided.

"Blue Pacific Futures" Lecture

Tommy Remengesau

Monday, January 11, 2021
1:00 pm (online)

"Blue Pacific Futures" featuring former President Tommy Remengesau of Belau. He will deliver the Peter Tali Coleman Lecture on Pacific Public Policy reflecting on his time in office.

Lunch & Learn

lunch and learn

Friday, January 15, 2021
12:00-1:00 pm at the Student Services Center Room W-201

Special session for new international students about topics such as how to get a job on campus, dealing with culture shock, and resources on campus to help you succeed! Lunch provided.

Revisioning Recovery: Films Uncovering the Roots of Disaster

Revisioning recovery

Thursday, January 28, 2021
6:00-8:30 pm online

Film screening and panel discussion hosted by the Institute for Climate and Peace and Working Films. "Revisioning Recovery" illuminates the current injustices, systems at play, and the solutions needed to prepare and respond to climate disasters. The short films bring overlooked stories into the light and expose the historical inequities that are exacerbated when disasters hit.

Meet & Greet for Pacific Islanders

Welcome in Pacific Island languages

Monday, February 1, 2021
5:00-6:30 pm online

Join a virtual "meet and greet" meeting for Pacific Islander students. Get to know your fellow students and faculty/staff across the UH Hilo and HawCC campuses and connect to resources to support you through the semester.

Working in the U.S. After Graduation

Work in the USA

Wednesday, February 10, 2021
4:00-5:00 pm online via Zoom

If you are planning on graduating in May (or August), you are invited to come to a workshop to learn about your option to work in the U.S. after graduation. Learn OPT (Optional Practical Training) and H1-B visas ("work visas"). Contact the Director of International Student Services for the Zoom link and passcode.

Resilient Pacific: Isolation | Containment | Contestation

Joy Lehuanani Enomoto

Wednesday, February 17, 2021
12:00 pm online

The year 2020 posed incredible challenges for the peoples of the Pacific. COVID-19 demanded that governments globally impose quarantines and travel bans. For the nations of the Pacific, pandemics are a body memory for many, and it also meant islanders were among the first to isolate themselves. However, this self-isolation also gave rise to an ever increasing police state and fascism, and following the murder of George Floyd by police, the cries of Black Lives Matter were also heard throughout Oceania. 2020 was filled with fear and protest but it also developed a space for new forms of communication, creativity and compassion. Artist, activist and educator, Joy Lehuanani Enomoto will reflect on what it meant to be Kanaka Maoli during the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic.

What's Next in Pacific Regionalism?

Pacific Islands Forum

Tuesday, February 23, 2021
12:30 pm online

A panel of distinguished guests will discuss regionalism in the context of the recent election of the next Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) Secretary General, and the subsequent plans of five Micronesian states (Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Palau, Kiribati, and Nauru) to begin the process of withdrawing from the PIF.

Hawaii COVID-19 Pandemic Disparities: Challenges & Resiliency of Pacific Islander Communities

Covid-19:  Pacific community updates

Wednesday, February 24, 2021
12:00 pm online

Presented by Anita Hofschneider, staff writer with the Honolulu Civil Beat.

International Nights

Samoans dancing

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and to keep our students and community safe, International Nights will not feature live performances this year. Stay tuned for news about a virtual show. View more information.

I Ala Mauliola Health & Wellness Virtual Student Symposium

Hawaiian woman

Friday, March 5, 2021
10:00 am-12:15 pm online

Various speakers will give presentations on topics such as the social and cultural determinants of health, navigating the COVID-19 pandemic, and indigenous paths to wellness and food sovereignty.

International Women's Day: Financial Literacy Workshop

international women's day on march 8

Monday, March 8, 2021
5:00 pm on Zoom

Learn how to budget, save, and make the most of your money for you and your family. Conducted by Siniva Pota, MBA.

Waipi'o Valley Trip During Spring Break

group of students at the top of Waipio valley

Date, Time & Location To Be Announced

International Women's Day Trivia & Bingo

International women's day trivia and bingo

Wednesday, March 24, 2021
5:00-7:30 pm at the Hale Kehau turn-around

Celebrate amazing women from around the world at this free trivia and bingo event!

Community Service Activity with the Food Basket

The food basket:  Hawaii's food bank

Friday, March 26, 2021
8:30 am-2:30 pm (lunch provided)

Give back to and serve the local community by doing some volunteer work at the Food Basket! Check your UH email for details, including signing up.

Hawaiʻi: The Untold Story

Queen Liliu'okalani

Date, Time & Location To Be Announced

Learn about the untold story of the overthrow of the Hawaiian kingdom and American imperialism and colonization.

International Student Association (ISA)

International Student Association 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 2020-2021:

  • Mirei Sugita (Japan) - President
  • Sinarleen Peres (FSM) - Vice President
  • Maruko Tiffany Sigrah (FSM) - Secretary
  • Darla Raymond (FSM) - Treasurer
  • Teppei Fukuda (Japan) - Volunteer Coordinator
  • Marla Pretrick (FSM) - Social Media Coordinator


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

About the Director

Jim Mellon

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.