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UH students gain global experience through inaugural Manoa Academy Beijing

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Victoria Cuba, (808) 956-7352
Social Sciences, Dean's Office
Cynthia Scheopner, (808) 956-8999
Social Sciences, Dean's Office
Posted: Jul 23, 2017

Manoa Academy Beijing students visit the Great Wall of China.
Manoa Academy Beijing students visit the Great Wall of China.
Students share their completed calligraphy project.
Students share their completed calligraphy project.
Students learn the art of tai chi.
Students learn the art of tai chi.


The College of Social Sciences (CSS) at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa provided an immersive experience for students through its inaugural Mānoa Academy Beijing program. Participants of the four-week summer course, which included a two-week study abroad component in Beijing, China, delved into topics of health and aging in China and Hawaiʻi, giving them a global perspective on the world around them.

“One interesting aspect of China, as well as Hawaiʻi and many other places, is this changing demographic of today’s society,” said CSS Dean Denise Eby Konan. “Mānoa Academy Beijing was a great opportunity to provide students with a tailored experience that allowed them to compare aging and demographics in Hawaiʻi to what’s happening in Beijing. It really got them thinking about their own parents and their own future.”

Fourteen students attended Mānoa Academy Beijing’s SOCS 180 course, an Introduction to International and Global Studies, and enjoyed a unique, hands-on experiential education.  

“Mānoa Academy Beijing offered an experience that was different,” said UH Mānoa junior Anthony Silva. “It made me think differently, it made me see life differently.”

Students spent the first two weeks of the course on the UH Mānoa campus, learning about health and aging and the landscape of Hawaiʻi. Students also learned conversational Mandarin from the Confucious Institute at UH Mānoa, as well as historical and cultural facts about the host country in preparation for their trip. 

The second half of the course was spent at the Beijing Foreign Studies University, a prestigious research university in Beijing, China, where students further explored health and aging, as well as the social systems for health and community and globalization.  

Morning lectures also included lessons in tai chi and calligraphy, allowing the students to gain a better appreciation for the Chinese culture. Afternoons were spent with excursions to some of China’s most culturally and historically significant landmarks, such as the Summer Palace, Tiananmen Square and the Great Wall of China, which deepened the participants understanding of their host country.

The study abroad portion of the course was made possible through a partnership with Han Ban, a cultural exchange agency funded by the Beijing Ministry of Education, and Hawaiian Airlines. The partnerships covered all room, board, airfare and excursion fees for Mānoa Academy Beijing participants.

Said Konan, “I know all of the students will be forever grateful that they had an opportunity like this. Some of the students would not have gone on a trip like this, if it weren’t for the generous support of our sponsors. One of my favorite parts of our time in Beijing was seeing the impact on students. It really can challenge them, but it also can help them see ways that they can be global leaders."

“Ultimately, what everyone does want to do, is to make some kind of impact on the world,” said Mānoa Academy Beijing student David Enriquez.

Mānoa Academy Beijing will be offered again next summer, and is looking to expand to additional countries. For more information on the program, visit


  1. Students on Great Wall of China w/ Mānoa Academy Beijing sign (1)
  2. Students participate in tai chi lesson (1)
  3. Students hold up completed calligraphy art lesson (1)
  4. Mānoa Academy Beijing with host school, Beijing Foreign Studies University (1)


Denise Eby Konan, Dean, College of Social Sciences at UH Mānoa (:15)

I hope that this is a chance for students to see that spending time abroad, that they learn something about themselves and they come to respect the diversity that the world has to offer.

Joshua Fuentes, Mānoa Academy Beijing Student (:09)

To really experience it firsthand is really one of the most valuable parts that anybody could get from this type of experience.

David Enriquez, Mānoa Academy Beijing student (:06)

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter where you come from, ultimately what everyone does want to do, is to make some kind of impact, on the world.