Off Island Perspectives

Copy Editor Rosannah Gosser

Photos by Holden Chao and Mana Peleiholani-Blankenfeld

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The University of Hawai`i at Hilo offers numerous routes for students to pursue travelling abroad, including studying overseas through the Center for Global Education and Exchange, representing their campus through the UH Hilo Ambassador Program, or attending extracurricular conferences like the College Media Association convention.

Through UH Hilo’s Center for Global Education and Exchange, Global Vulcans can choose to attend one of UHH’s partner institutions through the Direct International Exchange Program, linking them to schools such as Rikkyo University in Japan or Uppsala University in Sweden. They can also connect with a host program affiliated with UHH as International Education Organizations. IEO is comprised of programs such as the Institute for Shipboard Education, through which students can attend the Semester at Sea study abroad program and sail around the globe on a “traveling campus.”

As a Study Abroad Advisor from CGEE, Angela Laureta helps students who are interested in pursuing study abroad programs decide what country is calling them and what program best fits their major, their passions, and their visions for the future.

“Studying abroad has this potential to transform students into more mature people while gaining new perspectives in life,” Laureta describes. “It gives them a chance to learn more about themselves and see who they are as people and how they handle certain situations. By studying abroad, they will be exposed to many different types of teaching and lessons that they might never have experienced back home.”

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Neon Nishimura expresses this same sentiment of experiencing diversity and different perspectives while studying abroad. Nishimura spent one year attending Rikkyo University in Tokyo, Japan for business and marketing. He found that going from a small town like Hilo to a huge city like Tokyo opened his eyes to a wide range of lifestyles and outlooks, as well as the chance to meet new people and learn about his field from a fresh angle.

“Schools in America have a slightly different way of teaching,” says Nishimura. “I thought it was interesting to take Japanese business classes, as well as Japanese language classes, and to be able to make connections not only with students from Japan, but with international students too.”

Participating in a study abroad program through CGEE requires ample planning and preparation to sort out all of the necessary travel commitments, financial arrangements, and program requirements. Applications for study abroad programs through CGEE must be submitted one year in advance of students’ intended semester overseas.

Another opportunity available for students interested in travelling abroad is the UH Hilo Ambassador Program, which is coordinated by the student government to provide financial support for students who attend events, conferences, or contests on behalf of the university.

“Being invited to participate in or present any sort of work helps a student grow as a professional,” says Jennifer Lee, Committee Chairperson of the UH Hilo Ambassador Program. “Representing the University of Hawai`i at Hilo at these events helps the student apply their knowledge and give back to the UHH student body, while rewarding the dedication that the participant has put into their studies.”

The university also often provides travel opportunities for students who participate in extracurricular activities. For instance, five UHH students from different media publications on campus, including Kanilehua, Ke Kalahea, and the Board of Student Publications, attended the 2018 College Media Association convention in New York City. Located in the heart of Times Square, the convention featured guest speakers, advisors, and students from various media outlets across the country.

“CMA gave us all exposure to a wide range of college media, whether it be publication size, purpose, or format,” says Amanda Canda, the Layout Designer for Kanilehua, UHH’s Art and Literary Magazine. “Each panel had both something we could relate to and something completely new. I look forward to bringing back all of this information to UH Hilo, especially since our publications are by students and for students.”

Leomanaolamaikalani “Mana” Peleiholani-Blankenfeld, the Literary Editor for Kanilehua, expresses having gained similar knowledge at CMA. “What I learned from the sessions provided insight into making Kanilehua function even better than it has in the past and how I can execute my skills as a literary editor, as well as a student representing the university” Peleiholani-Blankenfeld says.

“Being in New York showed how competitive media can be and taught me how to stay with the times,” describes Holden Chao, Ke Kalahea’s Circulation Manager. “Getting training in social media and learning how to apply for jobs is incredibly important, as well as interacting with other college students and advisors. The atmosphere of New York is so much different than Hilo and seeing how quickly city life moves shows how fast news can develop.”

Flung between two island hotspots, one with active volcanoes and the other with the sleepless pulse of the Big Apple, CMA participants were immersed in the fast-paced environment of news and media. The workshops at the convention covered topics from sports writing to leadership, entertainment journalism to “making it” in New York City.

It’s easy to become isolated on an island, but as these UHH students have described, being exposed to rhythms of life different than one’s own is beneficial for both academic and personal development. Experiences such as these are especially relevant as students of today live and learn in an increasingly interconnected global arena.

“Whenever students get back from their study abroad experience, I notice that they are more confident in their field of study and are even more motivated to continue their academic pursuits,” Laureta of CGEE tells Ke Kalahea. “Most of all, they feel more determined to finish their studies with a clear mindset of what their future plans are going to be.”