UH Hilo welcomes international students at annual host families reception

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Date: Monday, September 23, 2019
Contact: Alyson Kakugawa-Leong, (808) 932-7669

For Immediate Release

International students at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo were recently welcomed by host families at a September 20 reception on campus. The host family program matches international students with families in the local community to help students adjust to and thrive in Hawai’i 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 whose students enrich their own lives.”

For example, Barb and Kim Magnuson have hosted students since the program began nearly eight years ago. They have created such strong and lasting relationships with their students that they have traveled to Korea to attend the wedding of the first student they ever hosted. The former student and her husband are planning to visit the Magnusons in Hilo during the upcoming holidays.

Nearly 100 new international students from 24 countries have enrolled at UH Hilo this year. Enriching the remarkable ethnic and geographic diversity at UH Hilo, students have come from all over the globe, including Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Denmark, Federated States of Micronesia, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Japan, Marshall Islands, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Palau, Serbia, Solomon Islands, South Korea, Sweden, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and Vanuatu.

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.

“These events are part of a powerful and growing movement in our country and around the world demonstrating that communities want to be welcoming,” said Rachel Peric, executive director of Welcoming America.


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 Vulcans athletic games, or a trip to a favorite swimming or hiking place.

Anyone interested in hosting an international student should contact Jim Mellon at mellon@hawaii.edu or 932-7467.


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