mosaic of Japan seanic spots

Sometimes, the most valuable lessons aren’t learned in the classroom, but in other countries with different customs, cultures and languages. The University of Hawaiʻi Community Colleges offer experiential education opportunities through study abroad, which provide students with unique learning experiences.

Kelsy Sonobe-Morita, a Kapiʻolani CC business major, embarked upon a year-long student exchange program in partnership with the campus and Nagoya-based Aichi University, Japan. Sonobe-Morita gained a valuable opportunity to delve headfirst into Japan’s language and culture, while also gaining experience in international business.

“I’m Japanese American and I’ve always wanted to kind of get more in touch with my culture and where I came from,” Sonobe-Morita explains. She always loved Japanese culture—devouring manga and anime as a child, attending anime conventions as an adult and even cosplaying some of her favorite characters. “I’m definitely excited to learn Japanese, it’s been on my bucket list since forever!”

For Sonobe-Morita, who spent much of her life in foster care, studying aboard is one of many opportunities that she knows, better than most perhaps, she should not take for granted. “I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today without my foster care agency. They’ve done so much for me and even though I aged out of foster care, they’re still paying for my support a lot, including tuition (at Kapiʻolani Community College).”

It was at Kapiʻolani CC that Sonobe-Morita found out about the Aichi University exchange. She has big plans for the next steps in getting her business degree—either transferring to UH Mānoa, a mainland university, or a Canadian school.

“I’m extremely blessed and privileged to have been chosen for this experience,” Sonobe-Morita says. “I’m learning a lot, not only about the Japanese language, but also myself. In the next several months I’m excited to see what the future has in store for me.”

Learn more about UH Community Colleges’s study abroad opportunities

The Aichi University exchange program is one of the many study abroad programs made available to students by UH Community Colleges. It is a result of the system’s pledge to extend education opportunities outside of the classroom. These immersive programs give students a unique perspective on the world and their studies, presenting complex challenges, real-world lessons and unforgettable experiences that go far beyond the possibilities in a traditional educational setting.

The Honda Study Abroad Scholarship provides between $2,000 to $8,000 to students who wish to study overseas and incorporate an international educational experience into their academic program.

Interested students can apply for these programs at the UH Community College study abroad website.

Applications are now being accepted for the 2017–2018 academic year.