STUDENT AND ALUMNI ACTIVITIES

The center congratulates its most recent graduate, Jesi Lujan Bennett. Jesi’s thesis, “Apmam Tiempo Ti Uli’e Hit (Long Time No See): Chamorro Diaspora and the Transpacific Home,” explores Chamorro migration and settlement within new diasporic spaces like San Diego, California. It shows how Chamorros living away from their home Islands still find ways to stay connected to their cultural roots through their trans-Pacific homes and identities. The movement of Chamorros to the United States changes how Chamorros choose to articulate their indigeneity. Jesi’s thesis highlights the challenges and nuances of living in the trans-Pacific diaspora through the examination of Chamorro organizations, clothing brands, and festivals. Today there are more Chamorros living away from their home Islands than on them. This project shows that Pacific Islanders abroad continue to keep strong links to their home Islands despite their physical location.
This semester, Jesi joins UHM’s Department of American Studies to pursue a PhD focusing on indigenous studies and work as a graduate assistant for the department.
At the beginning of fall semester, the center welcomed six new students into the MA program:
  • Rarai Aku Jr is from Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, and attended Hawaiʻi Pacific University, where she earned a BA in political science. Her experiences growing up in Papua New Guinea motivate her research interest in women’s roles in society. Rarai is interested in exploring gender equality in the Pacific Islands and hopes to develop culturally sensitive and respectful ways to address the issues.
  • Terava Casey has a BS in political science from Brigham Young University–Hawaiʻi Campus. As a student at BYUH, Terava performed at the Polynesian Cultural Center. She enjoys performing hula and ʻaparima [dance] because through dance, she connects with her Hawaiian and French Polynesian heritage. She is interested in employing creative methods to examine regional issues.
  • Matthew Locey graduated from Brigham Young University–Hawaiʻi with an associate of science degree. He has long been fascinated with Hollywood’s portrayals of Hawaiʻi and other Polynesian cultures. Drawing from his Hawaiian heritage and experiences working in Hawaiʻi’s film industry, Matthew looks forward to conducting researching comparing Hollywood’s version of the Pacific Islands with perspectives from the Islands.
  • Jason Mateo graduated from San Francisco State University with a BS in ethnic studies. In San Francisco, he was a youth advocate and developed the Brave New Voices International Youth Slam Poetry Festival. He has continued to work with youth and communities in Hawaiʻi and cofounded Pacific Tongues to create access to sustainable youth programs through an active community of writers, spoken-word performers, educators, and students.
  • Yu Suenaga was born in Japan and grew up in Weno, Chuuk. He earned a BA in Japanese studies from UH Mānoa. Together with other graduates of Xavier High School, he cofounded the Fourth Branch, a news and media outlet to inform and involve the people of Micronesia, particularly those living in Hawaiʻi. Yu is pursuing Pacific Islands studies to gain a deeper understanding of his home, Weno, and explore the connections between Japan and Chuuk, particularly during the Japanese colonial era.
  • Melvin Won Pat-Borja is from Guahån and earned a BEd in secondary education from UH Mānoa. He has worked in high schools in Guahån and Hawaiʻi teaching poetry and spoken word, and he cofounded Youth Speaks Hawaiʻi to develop critical thinking, writing, reading, public speaking, and leadership skills through spoken-arts education. Melvin is interested in exploring ways that educational systems in the Pacific region can validate oral histories and adapt to the needs of young people.
The East-West Center recently welcomed four new US–South Pacific Scholarship students. The students studying at UH Mānoa are:
  • Geejay Paraghii Milli, from Papua New Guinea, who will be working on her MA in political science
  • Devereaux Kolosefilo Takagi, from Niue, who will be working on his MA in public administration
Students studying at UH Hilo are:
  • Ada Kettner, from Vanuatu, who will be working on her BA in marine science
  • Pelenatete Katie Leilula, from Sāmoa, who will work on her BA in business management, is the fourth scholar and she will arrive in January.
Congratulations to CPIS BA students Ronia Auelua, Alyessa Nakasone, and Teora Rey, who were awarded 2013-2014 King David Kalakaua Scholarships.
The center congratulates its Pacific Islands studies undergraduate majors Jacob Mayer, Andrea Staley, Ronia Auelua, and Alyssa Nakasone, who have been awarded 2013-2014 Pacific Islands Studies scholarships. This award is for undergraduate majors who demonstrate superior academic performance.
Lesley Iaukea is the 2013 recipient of the Heyum Award. The Heyum Endowment Fund, at the University of Hawaiʻi, was established by the late R Renée Heyum, former curator of the Pacific Collection, Hamilton Library, to assist Pacific Islanders pursuing education and/or training in Hawaiʻi.
The 2013 Na Nei Tou I Loloma Award recipients are Kahala Johnson, Lesley Iaukea, Kenneth Goffigan, and Jesse Yonover. Thanks to a generous donation to the Center for Pacific Islands Studies, this travel award is presented to students to undertake projects that will contribute to an increased understanding of humanitarian issues and will benefit communities or the Pacific as a whole. The awardees will give a public presentation on their research projects on Friday, 18 October 2013.
Congratulations to CPIS MA students who were awarded East-West Center Graduate Degree Fellowships Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner and Melvin Won Pat-Borja. They join continuing fellow and CPIS student Kenneth Golfigan Kuper.
Congratulations to CPIS MA student Leora Kava who received the East-West Center’s Alumni Award as well as the Pacific and Asian Affairs Council’s Paul S Honda Fellowship.
CPIS faculty and staff also want to congratulate alum and PACS instructor Monica LaBriola (CPIS MA, 2006) on earning her doctorate in history in August 2013. Monica’s dissertation “Likiep Kapin Iep: Land, Power, and History on a Marshallese Atoll” explores the cultural, epistemological, and historical context of the 1877 sale of Likiep Atoll to José Anton deBrum of Portugal and deBrum’s subsequent transfer of ownership to the partners of A Capelle & Co. The investigation applies an eclectic ethnographic approach to reveal some of the historical and cultural dynamics that played a key role in the momentous transaction. The dissertation’s focused methodology and use of diverse cultural and historical resources demonstrates the important contributions ethnography can make to local interpretations of history and ongoing academic discussions of translocal themes such as colonialism and imperialism, Islander agency, accommodation and resistance, Christian conversions, indigenous knowledge and epistemology, land and sovereignty, and the practice and construction of history itself. LaBriola’s approach demonstrates that localized histories and historiographies are key to understanding the vast and expanding region of Oceania and to the ongoing dehegemonization of the discipline of Pacific history and Pacific studies more generally.
Congratulations to Edelene Uriarte (CPIS MA, 2010) and Derrick Albert, who were married on 8 June 2013 at the Diamond Head Seventh-Day [capitalization per Webster’s] Adventist Church.
Best wishes to Rachel Miller (CPIS MA 2010) as she pursues an MA in public affairs with a concentration on nonprofit management at Indiana University Bloomington School of Public and Environmental Affairs. Rachel was instrumental in developing and teaching Marshallese language and culture courses at UH Mānoa. For the past two years, Rachel was a project assistant with the Pacific Regional Integrated Science and Assessment (Pacific RISA) at the East-West Center and she collaborated with CPIS for programs such as the tok-stori series preceding the “Waves of Change” conference.
CPIS faculty and staff were saddened to hear of the passing of alumna Beverly Chutaro (CPIS MA, 2002) on 4 June 2013. Beverly was born and raised in Portsmouth, Ohio, and in 1968, only a week after graduating from college, she moved to the Marshall Islands with her husband Chuji. She spent time in the Mariana Islands and Hawaiʻi, but her home was in Majuro where she and Chuji raised their children Emi and Ben. Beverly was a faculty member in the Department of Liberal Arts at the College of the Marshall Islands.
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About cpis

The Center for Pacific Islands Studies, in the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa School of Pacific and Asian Studies, is both an academic department and a larger home for initiatives that bring together people and resources to promote an understanding of the Pacific Islands and issues of concern to Pacific Islanders.