MANILA, Philippines – UH Maui College officials visited universities in the Philippines last month to renew, solidify relationships, and build educational tracks for its study abroad immersion program called I.M. Ready.
The I.M. Ready immersion program, which stands for ‘International Mobility,’ aims to empower students by providing them opportunities to gain global experiences, expand their network and build lasting relationships beyond the islands of Maui County.
On Oct. 16, 2017, UH Maui College hosted a breakfast reception funded by its partner, the Maui County Sister Cities Foundation at Dusit Thani Hotel in Makati City. Philippine university officials attended the reception to help kick-off the tour, with honored guests State of Hawaii Gov. David Ige and Philippine Consul General of Honolulu Gina Jamoralin.
Other State of Hawaii officials present at the reception were Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism Director Luis Salaveria, Department of Transportation Director Jade Butay, as well as Friendship City San Juan Councilor Vincent Pacheco and former Commission on Filipinos Overseas Executive Director Mary Grace Tirona. Officials from partner institutions and organizations such as the U.S. Embassy Cultural Affairs Division, Ayala Foundation and Ayala Land, Teach for the Philippines, Rosa Farms, Filipino Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii, Rotary Club Manila, FEdCenter Finance Education and Rajah Travels were in attendance.
“It takes a village to raise our students, and today we’re assured that our village in UH Maui College transcends miles of the Pacific Ocean,” said Debra Nakama, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs in her remarks. “What we’re trying to do here is build meaningful relationships and set the foundation for our students for an experiential, immersion program – not your traditional student exchange.”
Vice Chancellor Nakama was joined by UH Maui College Marketing Director Kit Zulueta. Both were received warmly by schools visited during the trip.
A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between UH Maui College and the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City. Both UP President Danilo Concepcion and Chancellor Michael Tan were present during the signing.
The college also renewed its relationship with Mapua Institute of Technology, now Mapua University, led by its President Reynaldo B. Vea.
Written agreements are now being reviewed as a result of other campus visits conducted by UH Maui College representatives.
“I was impressed by what I saw and learned in the Philippines, and want to facilitate the exchanges that could bring so much potential to our institutions,” Nakama said. “What I saw was innovation and everyone’s willingness to build bridges, and UH Maui College can be a leader in Hawaii towards that direction.
“I extend my warmest aloha and mahalo to our new friends in the Philippines for sharing this vision with us.”
The I.M. Ready immersion program was conceived with the support of the Kabalikat Council, a group of Filipino professionals whose mission is to help advance and promote higher education at UH Maui College, and the Maui County Sister Cities Foundation, which has facilitated meaningful exchanges with international partners over the years.
New era of student exchange
Rather than the conventional student exchange between schools, the proposed format is highly customized depending on the partner university and field of study of the selected participants in the first cohort. UH Maui College Chancellor Lui Hokoana noted the need for experiential learning, such as visiting historical museums, taking public transportation, meeting mentors and role models, and having the opportunity to give back and have a positive impact in the community, no matter how small it may be.
”Classroom experience is still important, but having a deeper connection to the host culture would make the program more memorable and meaningful,” he said.
This has been the philosophy behind UH Maui College’s endeavor to establish its International Center of Innovation and Research. The student-driven center aims to bring the local and international community to the College as a hub of applied research and innovation, and expand opportunities for both students and faculty for global engagement.
The goal of the International Center is to provide a venue for students to be responsible global citizens who act locally by being:
- Insanely resilient
- Compassionately human
- Extremely resourceful
- Fiercely creative, and
- Culturally rooted
UH Maui College is presented with an opportunity to have a significant role in the narrative that’s being written for the younger generation in Hawaii, especially its Filipino students. Filipinos constitute the largest Asian-American demographic in UH Maui College’s student population. Filipino-Americans’ rich history in Hawaii dates back to 1906, with the first sakadas “imported” to work in the plantation fields, has cultivated a sense of pride and identity.
“The opportunity to rediscover one’s roots, while earning valuable resume content and international sensibilities on innovation, culture and community, are among the higher education options we wish to offer our students,” said Chancellor Hokoana. “I also invite the community’s support, as we embark on a fundraising campaign to make this vision into reality.”
If you wish to become part of the development of UH Maui College’s International Center for Innovation and Research, please contact Kit Zulueta at (808) 984-3398 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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