Outer Island Trips

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Outer Island Trips

While at the University of Hawai‘i, many of our ASH students take school-sponsored trips to the outer-islands. Others make travel plans on their own, visiting Maui, Hawaii, and Kauai with a group of friends.  We even had a student in the program who crewed on a sailboat for a short while during the semester, visiting Maui and the exclusive island of Lanai!

Certainly one of the highlights of outer-island experiences is the Kilauea volcano on the Big Island.  At Volcanoes National Park you can view the fuming Halema‘uma‘u crater, walk through a lava tube, and visit the Jaggar Museum on volcanology.  The crater and surrounding area is absolutely stunning, and you can feel why this is a sacred place to Hawaiians.  We took this picture of the crater last week.

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Study Away at the University of Hawaii

Here is a map from my office that indicates most of the home colleges and universities of our previous ASH students.  My student helper Nick did most of the work and claimed there was no more room on the East Coast to post the other 20 or so schools.

Our students for Fall Semester 2011 come from all over:  6 from state schools in California, 4 from Haverford College in Pennsylvania, 1 from Baylor University in Texas, 5 from schools in Colorado, Michigan, Illinois, Missouri, and Iowa, and 1 from Seoul, Korea.

Click on the map for a close up.  I bet there’s room for your school.  Contact semester@hawaii.edu to see how you can apply.




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A New Perspective

Coming to Hawaii has given me a new perspective on college, life, and culture. I’ve lived in Massachusetts my whole life, and escaped to nearby Rhode Island for college at Roger Williams University. Needless to say, I’m used to that east coast lifestyle – go, go, go; efficiency, efficiency, efficiency. Here in Hawaii, everyone is very laid back and slow, a very different lifestyle. This is one of the biggest things I’ve noticed about the culture here.

It surely is a different environment for me in several different ways. One of the most obvious being the warm climate, but also a huge mix of people from so many different backgrounds. Coming from a college that is 97% white, it is a big change, but a good one. I have really enjoyed learning about the different cultures that coexist here, especially the Hawaiian culture.

Being an RA here has given me a little bit of an inside look at Hawaiian culture. During RA training we have done several sessions on culture and diversity. We all submitted private questions that we had about each other – about hawaiians, mainlanders, and international students. One of the questions gave insight to why so many local students go home on the weekends here – to help out their families, do laundry, etc. Hawaiians are very family oriented people.

I think I may be one of the first, if not THE first, semester only student to become an RA here at UH. It has been an interesting journey. Being an RA here has allowed me to meet a lot of really cool, really nice people. It has given me the chance to speak with a lot of local people here at many of the other RA’s are from Hawaii. However, being an RA here is a lot of work; more work than being an RA at Roger Williams University. But the benefits are good – free room and board and a weekly stipend.

Now the good stuff – the island. The beaches here are great. So far I’ve been able to explore a lot of the island going to Waikiki of course, Waimea Bay and Turtle Bay (the resort) on the North Shore, as well as many of the beaches on the eastern shore.

My friends and I also had the chance to visit the island of Kauai. I must say, Kauai is absolutely gorgeous. Its a lot different than Oahu, most of it is like a jungle. Many films, like Jurassic park, have been filmed there. We had the chance to hike down the beautiful Na Pali coast which led us to a beautiful beach with virtually no one on it. We also had the chance to swim up to a huge waterfall and jump off another waterfall that was about 30 feet high.

We spend most weekends going to the beach, usually ones that are over an hour bus ride away. We’ve moved on from Waikiki beaches and the touristy areas. I’d say we usually go to the beach between 2-4 times per week which is pretty nice. If we have time, we’ll head over to Ala Moana beach park during the weekdays after classes to relax. Ala Moana provides a peaceful environment with a very calm bay to swim in. Mostly locals are at this beach as opposed to the beaches in Waikiki.

We’ve been able to see a lot of really cool sea creatures while snorkeling as well. We’ve swam with sea turtles, tons of tropical fish. I’ve also seen a couple eels and a shark (a small friendly one!)

All three of us (myself, Kenny, and Keith from RWU) are now scuba certified. Kenny and I finished our scuba class a couple weeks ago and are excited to go on a dive trip.

This weekend, we’re going to Maui and I’m really excited. This trip is going to be more relaxing than anything else. We also have plans to visit the Big Island in the beginning of December. I’ll keep you posted!

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STUDENT SPOTLIGHT II: Maida Besic and Dan Mehrez

Maida and Dan enjoying the red ginger

STUDENT SPOTLIGHT II:  Maida Besic and Dan Mehrez

Senior year sometimes brings much more uncertainty than freshman year.  What to do once the degree is in hand?   Maida Besic and Dan Mehrez, both seniors spending part of their last college year at UH, seem to take it all in stride.  Neither has decided exactly what will happen next semester, but their spirits are hardly dampened by the uncertainty.  In fact, just the opposite seems true.  To them, the world is open with possibility.

Before coming to UH, Maida attended Oakland University, a large commuter school in the suburbs of Detroit.  She always worked while taking classes.  Her jobs varied from pretzel baker to real estate agent to leasing consultant.  She will graduate in December, and it’s been wonderful NOT to work this semester, she says.  Her days are filled with studying, kayaking, snorkeling, hiking, and her list of Hawai‘i to-do items includes surfing, sailing, scuba diving, and horseback riding.  Life wasn’t always so leisurely, though.  Maida and her family lived in Bosnia when the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina began in the early 1990s, and they spent some time in a concentration camp.  After release, the family moved several times, living in Croatia, the Czech Republic, Germany, and Chicago, finally settling in Michigan when she was in second grade.

In August of this year, Maida enrolled at UH and the ASH program, taking 6 courses, including Arabic and physics.  Through Oakland University she is also taking an online religion class and is studying aikido in Honolulu. She beams when speaking of her UH Hawaiian Studies class, describing the teacher, Lilikala Kame‘eleihiwa, as “amazing”, and one of the best instructors she’s ever had.  “Her teaching is like telling a story,” and every day as class begins, the students gather outside to chant in Hawaiian, asking permission to learn.

Maida, always poised and articulate, is involved with the Common Bond Institute (http://www.cbiworld.org/index.htm), an organization that sponsors conflict resolution and transformation among different races, cultures, and religions.  She is considering how her new contacts here in Hawai‘i can become involved with the organization.  Maida always planned to continue her studies at graduate school immediately after graduation, but now she is considering some travel first.  Perhaps travel would be more valuable, considering her interest in social psychology and world issues of conflict and resolution.

Traveling and being on the move seem to be where Dan is most at home.  He has a bit of a restless spirit, spending a lot of his time outdoors. Somehow he’s managed to fit college in between all his ramblings, and a semester in Hawai‘i meshes perfectly with his adventurous nature.  His interests include rock climbing, kayaking, and hiking, to name a few, and he’s been a trip leader for excursions to Norway. He even speaks a little Norwegian and understands Hebrew.  Dan spent time in Lake Tahoe as a snowboard instructor and afterwards rode a motorcycle across the country, back home to Maryland.  The bike at some point began to break down and eventually required a screwdriver to start, which just added to the experience.  All this Jack Kerouac style cavorting might seem to point to a rough personality, but Dan is always gracious, soft spoken, and fun.

To read about one of his excursions in Mexico, check out this site: http://liquidadventureskayakschool.org/mexico-advanced-trip-dec-09-by-dan-mehrez/.

A geography major, Dan enjoys the physical openness of UH’s architecture and the green surroundings, which makes sense, given his affinity with the outdoors. He is especially enjoying his class, “Water in the Environment” and professor Tom Giambelluca, who Dan says is experienced and passionate about the subject, but laid back at the same time.  Dan is also planning an independent study with one of his professors back at the University of Maryland, possibly involving organic farming here on O‘ahu.

Other plans while in Hawai‘i are to revisit surfing and to crew on a sailboat, which will include a 5-day trip to the outer islands.  Dan has one more semester after fall, and then graduation, but he’s considering traveling to Mexico before finishing school, or perhaps staying in Hawai‘i.  Who knows?  There’s plenty of time to decide.

Even though Maida and Dan have different backgrounds and interests, a semester in Hawai‘i offers both a place to continue their pursuits and ponder the next step.  We’ll have to check in with them at the end of the semester to see what future they choose.

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Aloha! Maya here, Haverford College class of 2012 and Semester in Hawai’i student for fall 2010! We’ve only been here three weeks or so, but Hawai’i already feels like home. Every day has been a new adventure, and it has been such a gift to live in such a beautiful place. An example of a great adventure:

Last night was the premiere of the re-make of “Hawaii Five-O,” screened in Kapiolani Park on Waikiki Beach. And yes, this picture is real:

That’s right! That IS me with Daniel Dae Kim, STAR of “Hawaii Five-0” and “Lost” AND Haverford College class of 1990!! Haverford, being a school of only 1200, is very proud of our small number of celebrities, and so I simply had to get a picture with him at this premiere!

I can’t say it was easy to get to this point. We were already running late when we missed our no. 4 bus to Waikiki. I was sitting at the bus with the other Haverford kids (Rudy, Isaac and Aubrey), feeling sad that we had to wait for the next one, when we get a call from the one and only ANNA WOMACK, program director of A Semester in Hawai’i and woman extraordinaire! She had just driven by our sad faces at the bus stop, and was now offering us a ride! Honestly, and I’m not just saying this because this is the program blog, but Anna is REALLY the best.

By the time we got to the premiere, every man, woman, child and tourist on the island of O’ahu was on that beach, trying to get a good spot to watch the premiere. I ended up watching behind the screen where there was more room, and where I knew the VIPs and celebrities had to pass to make their way out. After the show, (which was AWESOME, by the way), I yelled out to Daniel Dae Kim saying “DANIEL! I’m a Haverford Student! Please can I get a picture with you?” He was nice enough to stop and say cheese.

Overall, it was a great night and a wonderful experience! And what a catchy theme song!

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STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: Keith Doucot, Kenny Ermann, and Daren Swenson

This entry marks the first in ASH’s “Student Spotlight” series, a set of interviews with current students in our program. One of the pleasures of meeting the students is appreciating the differences and similarities in their backgrounds and getting a glimpse of their life here in Honolulu.

Student Spotlight I

Daren Swenson, Kenny Ermann, Keith Doucot

Pristine campus, 3rd best college dining experience in the country, picturesque ocean front town, really nice dorms: University of Hawaii? Actually that’s how Keith Doucot, Kenny Ermann, and Daren Swenson describe their home college, Roger Williams University in Rhode Island. Yet they left all that behind to come to UH for a semester. Kenny found out about the ASH program on Facebook and invited his cohorts to come along. When asked how he persuaded them to apply, Daren and Keith agreed it didn’t take too much to convince them.

Kenny said the ASH program is a great way to experience one of the many diverse regions in the United States and a chance to enjoy a tropical climate. Last year he ventured to the deep south, to Valdosta, Georgia, with Habitat for Humanity, building homes and experiencing firsthand that famed Southern hospitality and cooking. Hawai‘i adds another dimension to his “See America” endeavor. French speaker and marketing major Daren has traveled more broadly, visiting France, Belgium, Austria, and the Caribbean. When asked why he decided to come to UH in the ASH program he replied, “Well…it’s Hawai‘i,” a statement that’s simple, but loaded with meaning. This semester is Keith’s very first foray out of New England (excluding a Disney World trip), and his eyes brightened up when asked about being away. His expression at that moment spoke more than his words.

These three guys have been in school at UH for 3 weeks, but their list of completed outings is already impressive:  picturesque Waimea Bay, secluded Halona Beach Cove, refreshing Wa‘ahila Ridge Trail, snorkeling at nearby Magic Island, the popular Honolulu Flea Market, a weekend trip to the island of Kauai, to name a few. Keith has already finished his scuba diving certification, and Daren and Kenny plan to get certified later in the semester. They’ve also purchased season tickets to the Polynesian Cultural Center and are planning a trip to the Big Island in December.

But a semester in Hawai‘i is more than beaches and sunsets. These students do all the adventures, and they have part time jobs and take full class loads (or overloads). Keith explained that it was overwhelming to sift through the huge UH course catalog and decide what to take, but his diligence paid off. One of his classes, “The Ocean Economy”, a course not offered at Roger Williams, is specific and specialized, but satisfies requirements for both of his minors, sustainability and economics. Keith’s major is construction management. Kenny has loaded up with 18 credits (6 more than a full load), and his schedule of 6 classes also includes “The Ocean Economy”. Kenny explained how he’s learned about isolationism in an environment like Hawai‘i and its potential for sustainability. His major is also construction management with an interest in environmental sciences. Daren is cruising through senior year with classes in French, anthropology and photography. He’s also an RA at one of the residence halls and maintains a very high GPA. Whoever said young people are not what they used to be hasn’t met these guys. They are polite and motivated. They work hard, get out there, and crave to do more. “It’s all what you make it,” Kenny says, which seems pretty wise for someone just 19 years old.

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Orientation Fall 2010

Here are the students in our Fall 2010 program!

Sunday was Orientation Day.  After an introduction and informational meeting we took a mini tour of Oahu, visiting several sites along the east ring of the island. Pali Lookout was outrageously windy, but the expansive view of the Windward side of the island stretched out before us. The picture below was taken there — at a calm, less gusty corner of the lookout!  Next we visited Waimanalo Beach Park and waded in the turquoise water. At Sandy Beach the locals and tourists were out in full force, taking on the crashing waves with body boards. Down the road from Sandy Beach we stopped at the “Blow Hole”.  It was a little tame that day, but the beach cove below (where the romantic scene from the movie “From Here to Eternity” was filmed) was gorgeous and full of swimmers. Often honu ( big ocean turtles) swim there, too. Hanauma Bay tempted most of us with its blue water, coral reefs and snorkeling. One student said, “It just keeps getting more beautiful.”

Our professional driver/tour guide had enough facts, trivia, quizzes, stories, and jokes to last the entire afternoon. I think he would qualify for a night job as an entertainer in Waikiki if it didn’t enjoy the tour guide gig so much.

Classes began yesterday, and the campus is hopping. Today it was good to meet another ASH student, Daniel Mehrez, who stopped by the office. He missed orientation due to a summer trip to Norway. His adventures in Hawaii this Fall will provide different scenery and require a different wardrobe, but they will be just as spectacular. Welcome, Dan!

Back Row:  Alex Collins, Keith Doucot, Jarvis Sam, Drew Koehler, Isaac Ellman, Maida Besic, Rudy Lamy, Maya Barlev

Front Row:  Daren Swenson, Kenny Ermann, Paddy Shumaker, Maggie Rogge, Julia Simpson, Daniela Guzman