New study abroad program gets underway


Image by Patrick Hascall
Image by Patrick Hascall

King Kalākaua was the first monarch in history to circumnavigate the globe. He believed in the importance of international learning. From 1880 through 1887, the monarch paid for eighteen young Hawaiians to study abroad.

In the great tradition of King Kalākaua, a new study abroad program, “Footholds Abroad Initiatives,” is set to open at WCC.

WCC was awarded a $50,000 grant from Partners of the Americas, an agency connected to the U.S State Department, to develop programs, raise awareness about the benefits of international learning and help students to find funding. It does not fund student trips directly.

The grant was written by WCC religion assistant professor Sarah Hadmack, WCC theater instructor Nick Logue and WCC Hawaiian studies instructor Makanani Salā.

The new center will focus on putting together short trips for students that are affordable and easy to fit into today’s busy schedules. It will help students find and apply for the many scholarships available for study abroad.

The center will open in mid to late October in Hale Na‘auao and will have a temporary office in the new Kāko‘o building until then.

“This program is really about letting students know that international travel is possible for them,” said Charles Sasaki, dean of academic affairs division II.

Sasaki works with the Fulbright Foundation as an alumni ambassador. It is through that foundation that Sasaki learned about the grant, which is aimed at schools that do not have study abroad programs of their own.

Four years ago, Sasaki went to Russia and Germany as a Fulbright scholar, which he describes as the Peace Corps for education.

After his trip, he was motivated to help others have the opportunity to travel. “I am so excited about this new grant because it will help our students with an opportunity to see the world,” Sasaki said.

WCC has two trips scheduled for 2017. One trip will be led by Logue to England for two weeks in the summer; the exact dates have not been set yet. The trip will focus on performance and literature and earn students credit for English or theater. Students will spend one week at the East 15 Acting School and one week in Stratford-Upon-Avon, the home of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and the Royal Shakespeare Theatre Company.

“My study abroad experience in college (to China) changed my whole life,” said Logue who was a Fulbright scholar like Sasaki. “I want to make sure that every student at WCC has the same option and opportunity as I had. Spending time immersed in another culture gives you perspective with which to understand and make the most of your own.”

Salā will lead the other trip to New Zealand during spring break next year. She will take students to visit WCCʻs sister college, Te Whare Wānanga O Awanuiārangi, in Whakatāne on the North Island.

There will be preparation classes in the spring for both trips. Students will earn one credit for the trips and three full credits if they attend the classes.

Hadmack said she got the travel bug when she went to England as an exchange student when she was 15. She later went to India as a graduate student and has been working as a coordinator for trips to India since 2008. She has done fieldwork in Taiwan, the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Canada. She was a lecturer in India at a Jain study program in 2002, 2009 and 2011.

She helped arrange for two WCC students to study in India last summer. The largest trip she ever coordinated was for 12 students.

“Travel is the master educator,” said Hadmack, who expressed her excitement at being able to have a center on campus that will facilitate helping students find the resources for study abroad opportunities.

For more information, check out the new center when it opens or contact one of the faculty members mentioned in this story.

Ka ‘Ohana staff reporter Cynthia Sinclair will be going on a three month independent study abroad program next spring, partially funded through a Honda Scholarship, a UH-based scholarship available to students. She will be doing a study to compare the way that different cultures deal with social issues like domestic violence and child abuse.


by Cynthia Lee Sinclair, Ka ‘Ohana Staff Reporter