UH Hilo to host fourth diversity symposium

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Date: Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Contact: Alyson Kakugawa-Leong, (808) 974-7642

For Immediate Release

The University of Hawaii at Hilo hosts a symposium entitled, "Transforming Our Institution(s): Transforming Ourselves,” on Monday, April 17 from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. in Campus Center 306-307. The symposium will provide a forum to discuss some of the opportunities and challenges that diversity brings. Representatives from Hawai`i County organizations, schools and community members are invited to attend.

At 10:00 a.m., there will the keynote presentation by Dr. Jonathan Okamura, professor of ethnic studies at UH Manoa, on transforming the university for the public good.

Born and raised on Maui, Okamura’s family originally came to Hawai'i in the 1880s from Japan. After his family moved in 1964, he attended high school and college in California, ultimately completing his Ph.D. at the University of London in 1983. His dissertation concerned post-1965 Filipino immigrant ethnicity in the Kalihi area of Honolulu. Before his post at UH Manoa, Okamura taught anthropology and sociology in Manila in the 1980s. His research has included many subjects on ethnicity and ethnic relations in Hawai'i, Japanese-Americans and Filipino Americans, minority higher education, and cultural minorities in the Philippines. Currently, he teaches courses on Japanese in Hawai'i, Filipinos in Hawai`i, ethnic identity, and Asian Americans. Some of his publications include The Illusion of Paradise: Privileging Multiculturalism in Hawai`i, The Japanese American Historical Experience in Hawai'i, and Filipino American History, Identity and Community in Hawai'i.

Student presentations at the symposium include “Social and Cultural Influences on Gender Identity” by Psychology graduate student, Laura Acevedo, at 8:30 am. This will be followed by a discussion of panelists from GLO, the campus Gay and Lesbian Organization, on “Transformation through Indigenous Education” and Communication major Marie Kerby. There will be two other student-facilitated panels.

At noon, the UH Hilo Rhetoric Society will discuss pros and cons of the U.S. Secretary of Education commission’s “No College Left Behind” initiative in a presentation entitled, “Transforming…More Than Meets the Eye?” At 1:00 p.m., the freshmen students of Dr. Melissa Johnson’s University 101 class will conduct an interactive session, “Voices & Experience,” designed to increase understanding of multiple ways of learning and knowing.

Faculty presenters include Kalani Makekau-Whittaker, the associate director of Kipuka, the UH Hilo Native Hawaiian Student Center, who will speak on “Transforming UH Hilo Beyond the Student Body” at 9:30 a.m. At 3 p.m., Dr. Catherine Becker, associate professor and department of communication chair, will present her research on “Healing on Hawai`i Island: How the Values and Practices of Native Hawaiian and Holistic Practitioners Transform.” This session will be followed with dialogue with Kumu Mahealani Kuamo’o-Henry from Puna on “Transformation Through Ho’oponopono Ke Ala.”

A 4 p.m. dialog session completes the day, facilitated by Dr. Gay Barfield, Hilo psychotherapist. Barfield, a long-time colleague of the influential therapist Carl Rogers, is a funding director of the Carl Rogers Institute for Peace.

This year's symposium is sponsored by Kipuka, Mu Pi (the UH Hilo Chapter of the Lambda Pi Eta National Communication Association Honors Society), Department of Communication, National Student Exchange and Chancellor's Committee on Diversity.

The event is free and parking will be available for $3.00 at the UH Hilo main entrance on Kawili Street.

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