Student and Alumni Activities

“Tell Them” Poem Inspires Musical Production at USP
“Tell Them,” a poem by Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner (CPIS MA student), was the inspiration for a music-dance-drama production at the University of the South Pacific (USP), in Suva, Fiji, in December. Moana: the Rising of the Sea was produced by USP’s Oceania Centre for Arts, Cultures and Pacific Studies and highlighted the issues and challenges associated with climate change. The play opened with a recitation of Kathy’s poem. Themes such as sea level rise, relocation, and culture and identity loss were featured throughout the play.
“Tell Them,” which Kathy has performed at several occasions including Poetry Parnassus in London and the 2013 Pacific Islands Leaders Forum meeting in Mājro, has inspired many Pacific Islanders, especially those interested in climate change and its adverse impacts on Pacific Islanders.
Introducing the performance, executive producer and writer Vilsoni Hereniko (CPIS affiliate faculty) said, “For anyone who has lived or lives on an island surrounded by the deep, beautiful, but dangerous sea, the thought that one day your island will be submerged under water is a possibility too cruel to contemplate… And yet, this is happening in several islands in Oceania already, with more islanders contemplating their imminent demise and what that would mean to them as a people, a culture, even a nation.” He asked, “How does it feel to be forced by the rising sea to abandon everything you hold dear and flee to another country to live among strangers? If you had to choose, would you go or would you stay?”
CPIS Student Conference
The Center for Pacific Islands Studies graduate assistants, Candice Steiner, Josie Howard, and Lee Kava, are pleased to announce the second annual CPIS student conference, “Expressing Oceania: Pacific Islands Scholarship on the Page, on the Stage, and Beyond,” to be held on 8 April 2014. This conference will focus on the ways in which creative expressions inform critical scholarship. Pacific methods of creative expression through dance, visual art, weaving, chanting, music, poetry, and storytelling (to name just a few) create rich foundations that engage and hold cultural memory, genealogies, activism, and scholarship. In conjunction with CPIS initiatives to promote the exchange of creative and critical knowledges of and for Pacific Islanders, the CPIS student conference aims to connect UH undergraduate and graduate students to share and discuss the ways in which Pacific methods of creative expression inform approaches to critical scholarship. By focusing on Pacific methods of creative expression, this conference foregrounds the importance of how students bring unique and diverse cultural frameworks into academic settings. The conference will close with a performance event in the evening.
Please keep an eye out for the call for submissions, which will be posted in January. If you have any questions in the meantime, please feel free to contact the organizers at cpisstudentconference(at)
PACS 401
The center is pleased to announce that PACS 401 will be offered in spring semester 2014. PACS 401 is the capstone for Pacific Islands Studies students to engage in intensive collaborative research with a Pacific Islander community in Hawaiʻi, culminating in a research paper and public presentation. The course has an oral focus to meet the general education requirement of BA students. PACS 401 has been offered as a directed study in the past, and now due to the growth of the Pacific studies BA program, there are enough graduating students to offer the capstone as a seminar.
Chamorro Studies at University of Guam
In October, the University of Guam (UOG) launched the Chamorro Studies Program as one event in the larger “I Sakkan i Inestudian Chamorro,” or “The Year of Chamorro Studies.” The UOG Chamorro Studies major and minor are interdisciplinary programs of study.  Students who graduate with a degree in Chamorro studies will be fluent in speaking, writing, and reading the Chamorro language but will also be well-versed in Chamorro history, culture, politics, and systems of knowledge.
CPIS alumni Dr Anne Perez Hattori (CPIS MA, 1995) and James Viernes (CPIS MA, 2008) are core faculty for the program. Dr Perez Hattori spearheaded the Chamorro Studies minor. James Viernes joined her and others as part of the task force convened by UOG President Robert Underwood in 2011 to develop and launch the degree program in Chamorro studies. For more information about the program, please contact the program coordinator Michael Lujan Bevacqua mlbasquiat(at)
CPIS Alumni Network
The center would like to help establish an alumni network to help keep in touch, to host events in Honolulu and elsewhere, and to establish an alumni scholarship fund. If you are interested in helping to establish an alumni group and activities, please email Katherine Higgins at khiggins(at)
Congratulations to the center’s most recent MA graduate, Susan Eve (Lefanoga) Hannemann. Susan’s thesis, “Faʻafofoga Sāmoa: ʻUa Sāunoa Mai Tuaʻā I Tiasā / The Ancestors are Speaking: A Comparison of Four Tuimanuʻa Chronologies with a Focus on the ʻApi or Genealogical Writings of the Young Family of the Anoalo Line of the Tuimanuʻa,” presents an oral-turned-written history of the Anoalo line of the Young family of the Tuimanuʻa and illuminates the differences between the knowledge of the Western and the knowing of the Samoan.
Congratulations to Leora “Lee” Kava, CPIS graduate assistant and MA student, whose poem “Hafekasi” was selected as one of the November/December 2013 Student Writer of the Month submissions and published by Hawaiʻi Review.
Margo Vitarelli’s (CPIS MA, 1985) artwork was featured in the spring 2013 issue of Hawaiʻi Review 78: 40th Anniversary Edition.
On 31 August, Josie Howard (CPIS Graduate Assistant and MA candidate) and Ann Hanson (CPIS MA, 2011) gave a presentation at Holy Apostles Church in Hilo, Hawaiʻi as part of the Micronesian Cultural Awareness Program (MCAP) program sponsored by Episcopal Diocese’s Pacific Islander Ministry. Josie spoke about her experience as a Chuukese woman to help deepen community members’ understanding about Micronesian cultures. Ann’s article about their presentation is available at
MCAP Josie speaking while seated
Josie Howard presenting at Holy Apostles Church
Congratulations to alumnus Ron Williams (CPIS MA, 2008), who successfully defended his PhD dissertation “Claiming Christianity: The Struggle over God and Nation in Hawaiʻi, 1880-1900” and has been awarded a doctorate by the UHM Department of History. Ron’s dissertation contests and complicates the dominant teleological narrative concerning Christianity in Hawaiʻi by foregrounding and analyzing the prolific actions of Native Christian patriots during the political struggles of the latter part of the nineteenth century. It utilizes Hawaiian-language primary source materials to examine how Christianity became a central tool of the Native struggle for the life of their land and lāhui. Ron highlights how the extant record of Native Christian action and writing of this period offers an entirely new understanding of the relationship between the Mission, Christian institutions of the period, and Native Hawaiian Christianity.
Ron Williams and his daughter Kiele at graduation
Congratulations, also, to Ann Marie Nālani Kirk (CPIS MA, 2010), co-founder and organizer of the ʻŌiwi Film Festival, which was held at Doris Duke Theatre 8–13 November. The third annual festival featured film shorts, documentaries, and features exploring Native Hawaiian identity, traditions, and culture. Ann Marie’s “Small Kine Stories” premiered in the ‘Ōiwi Shorts Showcase.
All of us at CPIS send warm wishes to CPIS MA candidate Healoha Johnson and Donovan Preza, who were married on 19 October 2013 at Correa Ranch in Waimanalo, Hawaiʻi.
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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.