Hawai'i State News

U.S. ambassadors to Japan, Korea talk story with more than 100 UH students

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U.S. ambassadors Rahm Emanuel and Philip Goldberg held a town hall session at the East-West Center on Jan. 22. Photo Courtesy: East-West Center

U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel and U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Korea Philip Goldberg engaged more than 100 University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa students in a thought-provoking town hall session at the East-West Center’s Imin International Conference Center on Jan. 22.

“I think the students had very, very good questions, and they’re clearly interested in the world around them, not just their own world,” Emanuel said. “This gives me kind of optimism and confidence about the future, when you have people this interested in not only learning but contributing.”

The diplomats shared insights from their extensive public service careers, delving into the trilateral partnership between the U.S., Japan and the Republic of Korea. The majority of the event comprised a Q&A session, providing a unique opportunity for students, young professionals and those interested in international affairs to participate.


“I think it’s very interesting and most important that there are so many students both at the undergraduate and graduate level who are interested in these issues,” Goldberg said. “I think it’s natural since Hawaiʻi is such an entry point to the Indo Pacific.”

The Q&A portion was moderated by Monica Orillo, a second-year UH Mānoa master’s student in Asian studies who is earning a graduate certificate in Philippine studies.

“It was really cool to be able to connect my future professional career to my academic experiences here at UH,” Orillo said. “And it was really interesting to see how the ambassadors interacted with students, were able to learn from the students like, ‘Hey, these are our interests and our concerns coming from the university or coming from Hawaiʻi. These are the things that we’re interested in. These are the things that we want to talk about.’”


Students from Japan and the Republic of Korea also attended virtually. Inspired by the Trilateral Leaders’ Summit at Camp David with President Joe Biden in August 2023, the session aimed to foster cross-border dialogue and shape the future. The event marks a significant step in strengthening cooperation among the three nations.

Following the town hall, students explored international opportunities at an expo in the East-West Center. The event was jointly sponsored by UH, East-West Center and the U.S. embassies in Tokyo and Seoul.

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