Categorized | Education, Featured

Hawaii Community College celebrates International Education Week

Ocean Lee, a Hilo resident enrolled in Hawaii Community College’s carpentry program, writes on a table where students and others penned messages of hope and peace as part of International Education Week. (Photo courtesy of UH Hilo)


With a “Gangnam Style” flash dance, a coffee and tea tasting, a panel discussion devoted to understanding world religions, and numerous other activities, Hawaii Community College celebrated International Education Week on Wednesday and Thursday.

The fourth annual celebration of International Education Week at Hawaii Community College was a chance to recognize the importance of enrolling foreign students at HawCC as well as the value of sending HawCC students and faculty abroad to give them a global perspective, said Sherri Fujita, the coordinator of the college’s Intensive Language Program and chairwoman of the International Education Committee.

“We’re not doing our students a service if they sit in class with the same students they went to high school with,” said Fujita. “We have to get them to see the world in a bigger way.”

More than 80 students from China, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam and other countries are currently enrolled in programs at Hawaii Community College.

These international students add a global flair to the community college and expose local students to other cultures, helping prepare them for a marketplace that has become increasingly globalized. Hawaii Community College has also helped its students study in other countries.

The theme of this year’s International Education Week celebration was “Imagine World Peace.”

The organizers of the event settled on the theme as the news of the attack on the United States Consulate in Benghazi and the uprising in Syria were grabbing headlines, said Fujita.

With greater interaction between students from the United States and abroad, Fujita said, hopefully there will be greater acceptance and tolerance of different worldviews, leading to greater peace.

“In the end, despite all our differences, people around the world have more similarities than differences, and we want people to focus more on the similarities,” said Fujita.

In addition to the educational and cultural value they bring, students from abroad have a major economic impact across the state of Hawaii, according to a report released Monday by Open Doors, a program supported by a grant from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.

The report was released in conjunction with International Education Week, which is a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education.

According to an economic analysis highlighted in the 2012 Open Doors report, foreign students enrolled in Hawaii colleges and universities and their families contributed an estimated $107 million to the Hawaii economy during the 2011-2012 academic year.

“All of the students who come to study here, they come, they spend money, their parents and other family members visit and stay in hotels and shop at the local shops, and some of them even buy houses,” said Fujita. “So just by staying here they stimulate the local economy.”

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