Eunice Yamada

After a campus-wide search and a competitive vetting process, Kapiʻolani Community College student and culinary arts major Eunice Yamada was selected to study in Europe during the 2018 fall semester. With the Council on International Exchange’s Global Scholar grant, Yamada will be researching health and wellness in different cultures in Copenhagen, Denmark; Paris, France; and Berlin, Germany.

Joseph Overton, chair of the Paul S. Honda International Center who guided the selection process, said Yamada’s application was impressive. “Eunice’s achievements at the college and her work in the community provide evidence that she is deserving of this award. Eunice is taking her learning to the next level, that being a holistic global experience.”

The Council on International Exchange’s Global Scholar grant is a one-time award for a student to study for one semester under a personally-designed program and was supported by roundtrip airfare from the Paul S. Honda International Center.

Yamada feels that the grant experience will help integrate her personal, academic and career goals.

Journey from Maui to Europe

Growing up on the island of Maui, Yamada did not know the cost of a lilikoʻi or an avocado because exchanging food with neighbors was part of everyday life. She enjoyed eating freshly picked fruits and produce, and from a very early age, learned the interconnectivity between food and community.

Despite earning an undergraduate degree in communication and working in media circles, Yamada realized her calling was in the culinary arts. She enrolled in the Culinary Arts Program at Kapiʻolani CC where she began to thrive and flourish. Outside of her studies, Yamada has volunteered more than 350 non-paid hours for college and private events, and staged educational cooking programs for children.

Yamada says that discovering the “Blue Zones Project” made a profound influence on her and is the catalyst that has allowed her to connect the dots in her life. Through research, the Blue Zones Project reveals how, across different cultures and countries, such factors as diet, a sense of purpose and belonging, socialization and family contribute to a long and healthy life.

Upon her return to Hawaiʻi, Yamada plans to give back to the community that raised her. She hopes her global lessons will help her to improve quality of life and well-being here and better educate the children and families of Hawaiʻi.

—By Louise Yamamoto