East Hawaii News

HCC Celebrates Students’ Rich Cultural Diversity

November 15, 2013, 11:39 AM HST
* Updated November 15, 11:41 AM
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Hawai`i Community College this week celebrated its rich cultural diversity with the observance of its 5th annual International Education Week.

HCC’s student body contains more than 80 international students, including those from Nepal, France, Japan and Russia, said spokesman Thatcher Moats.

When the ethnicities of both domestic and international students are considered, more than 40 national heritages are represented at the college – indicative of Hawai`i’s status of a global “melting pot.”

The celebration on Wednesday and Thursday included activities focused on experiencing the world through the five senses.

Events included an international tea and coffee tasting, calligraphy demonstrations, mocha-pounding, and presentations by faculty members who have worked abroad.

Students at HCC’s Kona counterpart, the University of Hawai`i Center, West Hawai`i in Kealakekua, also participated with a recipe exchange, Portuguese horseshoe competition and student presentations on the influence their heritage has had on their lives.

“International Education Week is a chance to celebrate our diversity and to highlight the importance of a global outlook,” said Elizabeth Niemeyer, a counselor at HCC and member of the International Education Committee.

International students provide a significant financial boost to the Big Island economy, contributing $1.5 million through tuition, fees and living expenses during the past school year. Statewide, that impact rises to $108 million, according to a study by a NAFSA: Association of International Educators.

HCC  recently increased its commitment to expanding its international base and curriculum by joining other universities and colleges in the 11th Internationalization Laboratory Cohort for 2013-2015.

The effort by the American Council on Education involves assistance in forming an internationalization leadership team on campus and development of a strategic plan based on an analysis of current campus activities.

“By internationalizing our campus and helping students study abroad, we provide students with the skills and knowledge they need to successfully compete in an increasingly global community,” Niemeyer said.

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