Exploring Culture, Health And Globalization Through Mānoa Academy Beijing

Manoa Academy Beijing students holding a banner at the Great Wall of China

Mānoa Academy Beijing students visit the Great Wall of China.

The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa College of Social Sciences 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 Denise Eby Konan, dean of the College of Social Sciences. “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. Throughout the course, students were immersed in diverse cultures and experiences, giving them a fresh perspective on the world around them.

“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.”

From calligraphy and tai chi to social systems for health and community

Students share their completed calligraphy projects.

Students practicing tai chi outside in courtyard.

Students learn the art of tai chi.

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.

“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,” said Konan.

“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 the Mānoa Academy Beijing webpage.