Global Vulcan Alumna in Action
SIT Graduate Institute, USA
Annyeonghaseyo! My name is Lehua McClung, and I am a graduate student at SIT Graduate Institute in Brattleboro, VT. I am pursuing my master’s degree in International Education. In 2013, I graduated from UH Hilo with my bachelor’s degree in Communication, a certificate for TESOL, and I am the first UH Hilo Global Engagement Certificate recipient. While a student at UH Hilo, I studied abroad in Seoul, South Korea. I attended Hanyang University in the summer and Korea University for the fall semester. I was afraid at first, but I am so glad that I chose to study in Korea. I love Korea! When I returned from abroad, I worked in the global office as a study abroad advisor for the South Korean programs. I loved my job. I loved promoting study abroad and sharing my stories and experiences with other students. Study abroad has changed my life and has opened so many doors for me. Carolina Lam saw my passion and potential. She introduced me to SIT Graduate Institute as she is an alumni.
She told me that if I loved my job, I should attend SIT Graduate Institute because it is a place where I could pursue my passion. I took a chance and applied. I was so excited when I got accepted, but a little scared as I have never been to the East Coast. The environment, curriculum, and community at SIT was amazing. I met people from all over the world. Our cohort consists of wonderful supportive people who have become my lifelong friends. At SIT, I was challenged, pushed to my limits and succeeded. It is a place where everything that you ever learned in school gets pulled apart and turned upside down, but in a good way. Experiential learning is mind-blowing, and I wish it were adapted and used in all schools. I have learned to look at the world and every situation with a different set of lens.
This January, I participated in a field course in Amman, Jordan. The course consisted of analyzing non-profits in Jordan. We visited about eight different organizations, learned about their structure as well as their impact on the community. I visited a Palestinian refugee camp that was heartbreaking. While in the camp, starving children kept asking us for money. I was not able to help them, and it made me feel sad and hopeless. I was shocked to learn that there were so many refugees in Jordan seeking refuge. I have a lot of respect for Jordan because they are trying their best to accommodate everyone with their limited resources.
Through another organization, I learned that the majority of Jordan’s water source is on Bedouin land. This organization delicately orchestrates trade agreements between the government and the nomadic tribe for everyone in Jordan to have water. While there, I did a lot of sightseeing. I visited Petra, rode a camel, swam in the Dead Sea, saw the ruins of Jerash, numerous desert castles and ate delicious foods. The Jordanian culture had many similarities to our culture here in Hawaii. The Jordanians are very hospitable. Every organization we visited they kept feeding us until we were stuffed. Similarly, their culture includes good food, good company, and good conversations. I am so grateful to have this experience and could talk all day about my experiences in Jordan.
My journey has led me back home to Hilo. I am currently the Coordinator of the UH Hilo’s Women’s Center. It is a different path, but my past experiences have sharpened my transferable skills so that I can apply it to any field. I am finishing my last year at SIT in this position. My anticipated graduation date is in May of 2016. I am not sure where my path will lead me next, but I am ready for what my future will hold.