Student Spotlight: Rachel Behrend and Jason Kunen

“I Wasn’t This Cool in High School!”

Finding one’s place in the world can sometimes take a while. But 2012 Spring Semester ASH students Rachel Behrend and Jason Kunen seem to have found their way. Both are thoughtful and serious students, dedicated to their education. Both have travelled to new places in search of adventure and inspiration, and both are committed to walking their own path. Spending A Semester in Hawai‘i at UHM is just one more adventure along the way!

Rachel and Jason

Brief Bio

Rachel: Biology major from Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania; hometown is Bethesda, Maryland.

Jason: Philosophy major from Haverford College in Pennsylvania; hometown is Staten Island, NY.

Favorite UH Class

Rachel: Drawing. It’s relaxing and different from all my other science courses. The professor is good, too.

Jason: I love all my classes, but my favorite is Philosophy for Children, taught by Dr. Tom Jackson. I’m planning to use some of his ideas in my senior thesis next year.

Favorite Form of Social Media

Both: Facebook

Decisive Moment or Turning Point

Rachel: When I decided to wait a year to go to college. After high school I took a job to earn some money, and then I travelled to Mexico and Senegal. In Mexico I worked in a physical therapy unit, and in Senegal I accompanied and aided a health care worker who nursed street kids. These experiences gave me direction and helped me decide what to study. The year also gave me perspective on new places and cultures and on many things in general.

Jason: This past semester I travelled to Japan where I stayed in monasteries and studied meditation with Zen and Buddhist monks. After this trip I knew I wanted to go into philosophy and teach.

Greatest accomplishment

Rachel: When I was in Mexico, I wanted to go to an authentic “Day of the Dead” celebration in a remote area, but it was far away and I didn’t have any place to stay. There weren’t any hotel rooms. I went anyway! I had to take a bus and then a boat to get there, but it was worth the trouble. I stayed up all night, watched the events and enjoyed the festivities. The next day I took the boat back to where I was living.

Jason: During my stay in Japan we travelled by bus to the small town of Kamikatsu to experience “Cave Meditation.” We were given white robes and a walking stick for the trek to the cave opening. Once we got there, not everybody on the trip wanted to enter the cave! A guide took the rest of us inside. The meditation was following the guide’s exact maneuvering through the cave. If you didn’t follow the guide exactly you could get stuck! We held a candle the entire time, while climbing ladders, crawling on our knees, and squeezing through tight openings. In the center was a Buddhist statue. It was a great experience!

What’s Next?

Rachel: Senior year at Bryn Mawr and Senior Research in biology. After I graduate I’ll take a year or two to work and then probably go to graduate school.

Jason: This summer I’ll be a Resident Counselor and a meditation and martial arts instructor at a summer camp at Haverford. Next fall will be my senior year at Haverford, which means senior thesis and grad school applications.

Long-term goals

Rachel: To be a part of Doctors Without Borders

Jason: To teach philosophy

Favorite Hawai‘i tradition

Rachel: Women wearing flowers in their hair!

Jason: I like how things here are very similar to Japan, but everything is in English!

Favorite Hawai‘i place

Both: Hanauma Bay; the snorkeling and beach are very nice!

Favorite Local food

Rachel: Hawaiian barbecue – garlic ahi, chicken and Kalua pig. I also tried taro ice cream, which was really good.

Jason: All the authentic Japanese food and mochi ice cream.

A Favorite book

Rachel: Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison.

Jason: Journey to the West

A Favorite movie

Rachel: American Beauty

Jason: The Jason Bourne Trilogy

Favorite TV show

Rachel: The Wire

Jason: Burn Notice

If a movie were made about me, I’d want this actor to play me

Rachel: The cartoon character Pocahontas.

Jason: Jeffrey Donovan from Burn Notice. We have the same sunglasses!

If I’m cooking we’re having

Rachel: Something spicy.

Jason: Baked chicken cutlets.

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One Response to Student Spotlight: Rachel Behrend and Jason Kunen

  1. kids songs says:

    It’s fun to read. Can I ask? Are Rachel Behrend and Jason Kunen engaged or something? lol

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