UH Hilo international students celebrate Welcoming Week

Date: Monday, September 17, 2018
Contact: Alyson Kakugawa-Leong, (808) 932-7669

For Immediate Release

International students at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo were welcomed by host families at a reception on campus September 14. The host family program matches international students with families in the local community to help students adjust to and thrive in Hawaiʻi as well as develop an ‘ohana in Hilo.

“It’s a way for new students not only to become part of the local community beyond the campus, but for families to learn more about other cultures and countries,” said Jim Mellon, who organizes the program and serves as director of UH Hilo’s International Student Services. “The program builds bridges between the campus and the community, and between cultures and nations. Students benefit from the program, as well as host families who feel that their students have enriched their own lives.”

For example, Barb and Kim Magnuson have hosted students since the program began seven years ago. They have created such strong and lasting relationships with their students that they are traveling to Korea in November to attend the wedding of the first student they ever hosted.

Nearly 100 new international students from 23 countries have enrolled at UH Hilo this year.

“Enriching the impressive ethnic and geographic diversity at UH Hilo, students have come from all over the globe, including from Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Germany, Japan, Marshall Islands, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Palau, Peru, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Thailand, and the United Kingdom,” Mellon said.

UH Hilo has joined with Welcoming America and hundreds of communities nationwide to welcome and recognize international students and scholars, immigrants, and refugees through activities such as the host family program. Other recent events on campus have included a welcome party for new and returning international students and a buddy program that pairs new international students with an American friend.

In the UH Hilo host family program, students do not live with their hosts, but rather meet with them occasionally throughout the year for activities such as dinner, attending a concert or Vulcan athletic games, or a trip to a favorite swimming or hiking spot.

For additional information about hosting an international student, contact Jim Mellon at mellon@hawaii.edu or 932-7467.

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